Eric Young has returned to the Mets lineup this week, after missing four weeks with a hamstring strain. Young injured the muscle while doing what he does best, base running. Young admitted to feeling some soreness in his leg for a few days prior to the injury that put him on the disabled list, but felt a pull while stealing a base. During his rehabilitation, Young continued to feel soreness, and was shut down once again, delaying his return to earlier this week.
Hamstring strains are a common injury for athletes that participate in a significant amount of sprinting activities. Speedy baseball players do plenty of that. Between chasing balls in the outfield and running the bases, a player like Young spends a considerable portion of each game running at full speed. When the hamstring is injured during sprints, the location of the injury is likely at the distal end of the muscle, where the muscle meets the tendon, near the long head of the biceps femoris. This generally occurs because the most distal portion of the leg is accelerating forward quickly, causing the hamstring to contract and pull the lower leg back into control prior to striking the ground. This motion causes tension on the hamstring muscle. If unable to handle the direct force, the hamstring will stretch and potentially tear.
If Young was experiencing soreness before tearing his hamstring, it’s possible that he had previously torn the muscle and it hadn’t completely healed. Stealing the base with an already weakened muscle likely enhanced the pre-existing tear to a level that he could not play through.
Young is a prime example of why hamstring injuries need to be treated immediately. Before the athlete returns to intense activity, the muscle must be fully healed, to avoid risking further injury. Rest is key, but ice, compression, and elevation will each help to speed the healing process by minimizing the amount of bleeding in the muscle belly of the hamstring.
Young tried to downplay his injury by saying that his trip to the DL was simply to avoid further muscle injury. While this may be true, the fact that he was sore for days prior to the injury would suggest that he had already done what he’s now trying to avoid. Aggravating the injury again, during his rehabilitation, makes one wonder if his rehab program may have been initiated too soon.
Clearly, Young wants to get back to the Mets lineup as soon as possible, and despite his .231 batting average this season, the Mets want his speed back in the lineup as well. Having already stolen 17 bases in 18 attempts this season, he’s not going to let some pain hold him down. Unfortunately, it seems possible that Young may be pushing himself beyond his body’s capabilities. Hopefully his hamstring is fully healed, because if it isn’t, he will find himself back in the Mets’ rehab facility sooner rather than later.