Steve Eighinger

Zumaya was no guitar hero

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 18, 2019 9:20 am Updated: Apr. 18, 2019 9:32 am

The Major League Baseball season is now in full bloom, so why not honor the national pastime in our "Morons of the Month" tribute for April?

The following incidents are some of the strange-but-oh-so-true stories tied to some of our MLB heroes in recent years.

Bronze medal

Rickey Henderson, baseball's all-time stolen base king, enjoyed a rich history when it came to comical adventures attached to his legend.

Rickey, who often talked in third person, once missed three games with the Blue Jays in the early 1990s because he passed out with an ice pack on his ankle and woke up with frostbite -- in August.

Silver medal

Knuckleballer Steve Sparks, who was pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks at the time, wanted to impress his teammates with a feat of strength.

So he tried to rip a phone book in half.

Yeah, as you might guess, that was not a good idea.

Sparks dislocated his left shoulder and landed on the disabled list.

Gold medal

Joel Zumaya's relatively brief big-league career with the Detroit Tigers featured an unusual injury history. Nothing, however, compared to his self-inflicted injury in 2006, one that sidelined him for the 2006 American League Championship Series with a sore wrist.

Zumaya injured himself playing too much of the PlayStation 2 game Guitar Hero.

No kidding.

The injury did get Zumaya some (unwanted?) national attention. In the XBox 360 version of Guitar Hero II, the credits contained this message:

"No pitchers were harmed in the making of this game. Except for one. Joel Zumaya. He had it coming."

Before the Guitar Hero injury in 2006, Zumaya threw a record 234 pitches of 100 mph or more, with the top mark reportedly just under 104, one of the fastest in history.

Here are few other moronic baseball injuries that didn't quite make our cut but were still noteworthy:

Jonathan Lucroy: Catching for the Brewers at the time, Lucroy was reaching under his hotel room bed for a lost sock when his wife shifted a suitcase causing it to fall on his hand. Lucroy suffered a broken hand that required surgery. His wife reportedly received quite a bit of hate mail from fans.

Matt Holliday: He was playing left field for the Cardinals in 2011 when he had to leave a game after a moth flew in his ear.

Clint Barmes: When he was a rookie infielder with the Rockies in 2005, Barmes broke his collarbone while carrying deer meat up a flight of steps of his apartment.

Ken Griffey Jr.: The future Hall of Famer, then playing for the Reds, once missed a game in 2006 when he pinched himself with his protective cup.