For the last three seasons, Jonathan Lucroy played in pain. Agonizing pain, at times.
Lucroy prides himself in being relatively tough and durable. In a 10-year career, he's caught nearly 1,100 games and withstood foul tips, back-swings and nasty home plate collisions. Unpleasant as they are, all of those are part of the game.
But what Lucroy dealt with in recent years was far worse and more unrelenting than those occupational hazards. Lucroy had a herniated disc in his neck which resulted in nerve damage and almost constant pain.
"It felt like (having) a knife in my neck,'' said Lucroy Friday, "It was very painful. I hope no one else has to ever deal with it. I lived with it for three years, stupidly.''
Now, the way I feel, it's been a complete turnaround. I'm freed up and feel better overall. I'm grateful that I finally did it, so I can go out and compete and do what I do.''
The condition made sleep difficult, so imagine what it did to his baseball career. This past offseason, Lucroy underwent a somewhat novel procedure in which a replacement disc, made of metal, was inserted to replace the damaged one. (A similar procedure was done to the lower back of golfer Tiger Woods).
"Now, the way I feel, it's been a complete turnaround. I'm freed up and feel better overall,'' he said. "I'm grateful that I finally did it, so I can go out and compete and do what I do.''