Looking Inside Chris Pronger's Knee is a Pleasing Experience

Looking Inside Chris Pronger's Knee is a Pleasing Experience

Chris Pronger spoke with reporters this afternoon discussing his recent knee surgery in addition to all of the other ailments that have hit him over the past few seasons.

He indicates it's "this could happen to anybody" type of injuries but, over the past two seasons, we've seen him emerge from one injury with a completely different one. While taking a puck to the hand or a stick to the eye has nothing to do with age, the ability to recover and stay in game-shape while not doing everyday routines, could be related to it. Also alarming is that they don't seem to have any idea (or aren't saying) what the virus is exactly.

He's passed his concussion test, but he's not out of the woods on whatever is slowing his body down. That said, the doctor who looked inside his knee the other day was pleased with what he saw.

The full Pronger transcript:

Q: When did you have your surgery and how are you feeling? 

A: I had the surgery on Tuesday afternoon. I’m feeling okay just ice and elevation, trying to get the swelling out and I start my rehab tomorrow 

Q: Holmgren said the other day that you would be out for 4 weeks. Are you optimistic that it will be four weeks? Do you think you could be back sooner than that? 

A: I have no idea. Again, I had surgery two days ago, so  once I start getting my rehab going, as I progress through that I’ll know a bit more. Gauging off of when I had my other knee done a couple of years ago, a month sounds about right, but again, it may be 3 weeks, it may be 6 weeks, I don’t know. We just kind of gave a ballpark number because we don’t really know. 

Q: You mentioned the other surgery and that one took about 9 weeks. Homer said he thought that one was more involved…did the doctors tell you what was different about this surgery compared to the one you had two years ago?

 A: There was a little bit more damage on the one a couple years ago. There were pretty big chunks they took out and it was not as clean as this knee was. The doctor was pretty pleased when he got in there to see what exactly was involved and was pretty please with what he saw. 

Q: Did you feel like you were almost ready to come back from the virus and then this whole thing with the knee came up? 

A: Well, my knee had kind of been bothering me. It’s gradually gotten worse since I came back from the eye injury. When I stopped skating, as I started to try to work out, it started to bother me. I’d do daily workouts and try to do legs every other day and it got to a point where I couldn’t do my leg workouts so I knew something was wrong. I went and got the MRI and got a plan to get it fixed very quickly as opposed to last time, Tim, when you got mad at me for doing it so late. 

Q: Was there anything that you did when you played that would have contributed to this injury? 

A: Not that I know of. I don’t remember ever getting hit; I don’t remember ever catching it in a rut or doing anything. I don’t know what it’s from…I have a couple suspicions, but I don’t really know.

Q: How frustrating is this for you? Last year you said was the season from hell and this year so far you’ve had three different issues. How tough it for you mentally now with this kind of start? 

A: Again, I was pretty pleased with how my summer went with training and obviously got in a preseason game and felt like I got a pretty good start to the season. When you have a fluke injury where you get slashed in the face with a stick and now the knee, it’s a little disheartening. But I felt like I was playing pretty well when I got hurt the first time. It just sets you back. You’re just starting to get your rhythm, you’re starting to get in your groove and you’re comfort level is very high and this kind of sets you back. I have to go through that whole process again whenever I do get back. 

Q: How scary was the virus? When we asked Paul he didn’t really know what it was. He said there were tests but it wasn’t anything overly-serious… 

A: I just didn’t feel well. I didn’t know what it was, we said it was a virus but I didn’t know what it was. I had never felt like that before, where I had headaches and nausea and all the rest of that stuff. So I had a concussion test. I took the baseline test and passed that… I’ve just never felt like this where you get lightheaded, you have headaches, you’re nauseous...It’s been a bit of a mystery with what exactly is going on. I did some blood-work and we’re trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on. 

Q: Is this one of those things, with your surgery, where you might’ve been able to play but you wanted to take care of it so that when it comes time for the games that really matter—the playoffs—you can be 100 percent?

A: I think if it was the playoffs or the Stanley Cup Final, I could play, but it was to the point where I wouldn’t have played very well. We can always say we can play but at what level and at what detriment are you playing? At this stage in the season, not knowing the other side of it, it was prudent to get it done now so that if I’m able to return in 4 weeks, let’s say, then I’m able to get 3 weeks in before the all star break and then put the hammer down after that, as we get into the playoff stretch. 

Q: When you go through something like this-- when you’ve had so many surgeries-- do u do any soul searching and say, my body’s breaking down here, how long do I want to go through this? Or do you say to yourself, hey, I did have a fluke injury with the eye but now I have both of my knees taken care of so they should be good to go for a few more years…? 

A: Well you have to look at the injuries in their totality. I got hit with a puck and I broke my foot. I got hit with a puck in the hand and I broke my hand. I got slashed in the face and hurt my eye. The knees are things that, you know, I hurt my knee in the game against Boston in the Stanley cup playoff and this one was from I don’t know what. The only one that was really perplexing was the back. I don’t really know how or what happened there and probably never will. It’s just one of those things. You look at the number of the injuries and they would seem to be kind of fluky. Three of them I got hit with the puck or a stick. Are those everyday hockey occurrences? Yeah, it could happen to anybody. When you play the game hard and you play a lot of minutes you’re that much more inclined to have something happen to you because you’re always out there. So you still have to take a look at it as, yeah, I’ve had a lot of surgeries and it takes a toll on your body but you’ve got to continue to follow rehab protocol and follow guidance of the doctors and try to make sure that you’re doing the best you can to take care of your body and take care of your mind at the same time to prepare yourself to be ready when you do get back. 

Q: Just to be clear, are you still dealing with the effects of the virus? Or whatever you said you wanted to call it? 

A: Yeah, I’m not quite…again, we’re still trying to ascertain what’s going on, and like I said, I’ve never felt like this before so...I don’t really know what’s going on.

Jeremy Hellickson enjoyed his time with Phillies, now he'll look for free-agent riches

Jeremy Hellickson enjoyed his time with Phillies, now he'll look for free-agent riches

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — Jeremy Hellickson made his final start of the season for the Phillies on Thursday night.

Now he becomes the team’s first big offseason decision.

Hellickson had long left the game with a sore right knee by the time struggling reliever Jeanmar Gomez was tagged for four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning in what ended up as a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves (see Instant Replay). The Phillies were swept in their final trip to Turner Field — the Braves will move into a new ballpark in April — and have lost six of their last seven games heading into the final weekend of the season and a three-game series against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

“It’s a bad time to be in a rut and we’re in a rut,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “We’ve got to go home and snap out of it.”

Besides supporting his rotation mates, Hellickson won’t make any contributions this weekend. The 29-year-old right-hander, acquired in a November trade with Arizona, finished his season 12-10 in a career-high 32 starts. He tied a career high with 189 innings. His final ERA of 3.71 was his best since he recorded a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts for Tampa Bay in 2012.

Though he left the game in the fourth inning after tweaking his knee while running the bases (see story), Hellickson achieved his season goal.

“This isn’t anything that’s going to linger,” he said, looking down at his knee. “So I came out healthy. That was my main thing, try to throw 200 innings — I fell just short of that — and stay healthy. So as far as those two goals go, it was good.”

By staying healthy and pitching well, Hellickson built himself a nice free-agent platform. But before Hellickson heads out on the open market, the Phillies must make a decision: Do they offer him $17 million to retain him in 2017 or simply let him go. As a rebuilding team, the Phils would love to get a draft pick as compensation for Hellickson’s leaving. But to get that pick, they must make Hellickson that one-year qualifying offer and he must reject it and sign elsewhere. 

It seems likely that the Phils will make the offer to Hellickson. If he takes it, he will return in 2017 and fill the same veteran stabilizer role he did this season. If he rejects, the team will get a pick between the first and second rounds of next year’s draft. The value of that draft pick is significant and was seen as a reason the Phillies did not trade Hellickson in July.

Qualifying offers go out in early November, but general manager Matt Klentak isn’t ready to tip his hand on what he’ll do.

“Both are valuable,” he said, weighing Hellickson's returning on a one-year deal versus picking up a draft selection between the first and second rounds. “For the same reason Jeremy Hellickson was valuable to us this year, Jeremy Hellickson or a player like that could be valuable to us again next year. The draft pick at the end of the first round has a real, measurable, tangible value.”

After Thursday night’s game, Hellickson was asked if he believed he’d made his final start with the Phillies.

“I hope not,” he said. “But I don’t really know how to answer that. I would love to be back here next year. I think everyone knows how much I’ve enjoyed my time here and I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

The pitcher was pressed as to whether he could envision himself accepting the qualifying offer if the Phillies made one.

“Yeah, I mean I definitely could see it,” he said. “But …"

Hellickson paused. Then a reporter broke the silence by suggesting the pitcher would rather get a multi-year deal on the open market.

“Yeah, I would love that actually a little bit more,” he said.

The Phillies could look to strike a multi-year deal with Hellickson before he hits the open market five days after the World Series, but that does not appear to be in the club’s plans. The Phils seem to be interested mostly in short-term deals for veterans as they let their kids develop.

In time, this thing will play out.

But for now, the Phillies head home looking to stop a losing streak and scuttle the Mets’ postseason hopes.

Find great deals on Philadelphia Phillies tickets with TicketIQ. Buy cheap Phillies tickets with no hidden fees for all games on their 2016 schedule. 

Best of MLB: Cardinals top Reds on Molina's disputed double in 9th

Best of MLB: Cardinals top Reds on Molina's disputed double in 9th

ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina hit a disputed double that drove in the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning Thursday night, sending the St. Louis Cardinals over the Cincinnati Reds 4-3.

The Cardinals began the day one game behind San Francisco for the second NL wild-card spot.

Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk from Blake Wood (6-5). With two outs, Molina's one-hop hit appeared to bounce off a sign above the left-field wall and carom back into play.

Carpenter kept running and scored from first. Reds manager Bryan Price ran after the umpires, who left the field as soon as Carpenter touched the plate.

Price later said umpire crew chief Bill Miller told him that teams have 10 seconds to appeal on a game-ending play, and that the complaint wasn't made in time.

"I'm not blaming the umpires. I'm blaming the system," Price said.

Molina and Jedd Gyorko hit solo homers for the Cardinals.

Seung Hwan Oh (6-3) wound up with the win (see full recap).

Jimenez delivers strong start, Orioles blank Blue Jays 4-0
TORONTO -- Ubaldo Jimenez and two relievers combined on a three-hitter and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Blue Jays 4-0 on Thursday night, moving into a tie with Toronto in the AL wild card race with three games remaining.

When he started at Toronto on June 12, Jimenez allowed five runs and six hits in 1/3 of an inning, the shortest start of his career.

The right-hander returned Thursday and carved up the Blue Jays. The only hit he allowed was Ezequiel Carrera's single to begin the first. Josh Donaldson followed with a walk but Jimenez retired the next six batters in order.

Devon Travis walked to open the third and advanced on Carrera's sacrifice, but that was the first of 11 consecutive outs for Jimenez, a streak that ended with Edwin Encarnacion's two-out walk in the sixth. Jose Bautista flied out to end the inning.

Jimenez (8-12) allowed one hit in 6 2/3 innings, improving to 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA in five September starts. He walked three and struck out five (see full recap).

Cubs, Pirates play to rare MLB tie
PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates played a rare major league tie on Thursday night when their game was called off due to rain with scores level at 1-all in the sixth inning.

With the Cubs and Pirates not scheduled to play again this season, officials decided the game would not be made up, since its outcome will not affect postseason positioning. Chicago long ago clinched the National League Central, while Pittsburgh is out of playoff reckoning, sitting third in that division.

So instead of becoming a suspended game, the match was declared a tie -- the first since Houston and Cincinnati went seven innings on June 30, 2005, before rain halted them.

Willson Contreras had two hits and scored for the NL Central champion Cubs, who have already clinched the best record in the majors. Josh Bell hit a sacrifice fly for the Pirates.

The game was called in the top of the sixth after a delay of 1 hour, 23 minutes.

Tim Federowicz hit a sacrifice fly in the Cubs second. Pittsburgh tied it in the third.

Cubs rookie Rob Zastryzny gave up one unearned run in 3 2/3 innings in his first major league start after beginning his career with seven relief appearances (see full recap).

Buxton doubles, triples in Twins' 7-6 victory over Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Byron Buxton tripled, doubled, drove in two runs and scored twice as the Minnesota Twins defeated the Kansas City Royals 7-6 on Thursday night.

After Salvador Perez's pinch-hit RBI single with two outs in the ninth pulled the Royals within a run, Terrance Gore ran for him. With Paulo Orlando, who had four hits to match his career high, hitting, Brandon Kintzler picked Gore off first base.

Gore was initially called safe, but after a 1 minute, 15 second review, the call was reversed to end the game.

Buxton's one-out double triggered a three-run ninth off Kelvin Herrera (2-6). Robbie Grossman, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler contributed run-scoring singles in the ninth.

The Twins won for the first time in 10 games this season at Kauffman Stadium (see full recap).