PHOENIX — Naturally, the first thing Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross wanted to know about his hip injury was if it was the Bo Jackson, career-ending type. It is not. Doctors found that Ross suffered a broken bone along the back of his right hip joint in addition to a dislocation when his cleat caught near first base Aug. 11, but there was no subluxation of the type that forced Jackson off the field for good.
Ross’ injury is believed to be the first of its type suffered by a baseball player, so while doctors do not a history to go on, Ross was told he should be able to resume baseball activities in spring training.
“They said hopefully I will be back by the middle part of spring training-ish, somewhere in there. That’s the goal,” Ross said.
Added D-backs manager Kirk Gibson: “A lot depends on how it heals.”
Ross underwent surgery Aug. 13 and was told not to put weight on his right leg for three months. He began physical therapy this week. His hip is being held together by two plates and five or six screws. Dr. Anthony Rhorer also found that some hip cartilage had been damaged, a condition that could lead to arthritis.
“It could happen with a few years, it could be 10 years down the road, 20, or never. You hope and pray that doesn’t happen. If that happens, you are bone on bone and have to have hip replacement,” Ross said.
“Going into it, he said his No. 1 goal going into the surgery was for me not to have a hip replacement down the road. Secondary was for me to get back on the field and competing at the high level that I do.”
Ross was just hitting his stride in his first season with the Diamondbacks when the injury struck and finished with a .278 batting average, eight home runs and 38 RBI. He hit .405 with four doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs in the 11 games before the injury, which came when a cleat caught in the dirt as he approached first base after grounding out in the first inning of a 9-5 loss to the Mets.
Ross watched the video, as much as he didn’t want to, to find out exactly what happened.
“It was such a quick thing and a weird deal. I’m running down to the first base and I know I’m out, so I started to shut it down, and right before I got to the bag, my cleat caught,” Ross said.
“When that happened, I started to go forward. Instead of rolling, the bag was right in front of me so I tried to catch myself and I put my foot (down), and my leg just hyperextended. The doctor said most people, probably everybody that doesn’t play sports, would have just blown their whole knee out, but the fact that my quad and my hamstring were so strong and my knee was tight (made it so) all the force came out of my hip.
“Most of the time it would have been a full-blown knee. Mine was a hip. It probably would have been a better deal if it was the knee, but …”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy spoke to Ross on Saturday, the first time the two had talked since the injury. Ross was an integral part of San Francisco’s 2010 World Series title, hitting five postseason home runs and winning the NLCS MVP award.
“Everybody who has played with Cody likes him. He’s a great player, and he knows how to play the game,” Bochy said.