The Padres' Top 5 Medical Comebacks

Scripps orthopedic surgeon and Padres head athletic trainer select Top 5 Padres medical comeback stories

Padres team physician Jan Fronek, MD, and head athletic trainer Todd Hutcheson at Spring Training

Padres team physician Jan Fronek, MD, and head athletic trainer Todd Hutcheson at Spring Training

During the past 30 years as the Padres’ official health care provider, Scripps Clinic has helped heal countless injuries and illnesses.

But for a select few Padres, the journey from injury to health has been truly phenomenal.

Scripps orthopedic surgeon Jan Fronek, MD, and Padres head athletic trainer Todd Hutcheson recently selected their top five Padres medical comeback stories since Scripps joined the team 1980.

Tony Gwynn

During his 20-year career, “Mr. Padre” filled medical files as well as team record books. Gwynn underwent more than a dozen surgeries at Scripps, including eight on his left knee. He also had operations on both hands, a big toe, an Achilles tendon and his neck, along with broken bones in his wrist and fingers. Gwynn rebounded time and time again en route to a Hall of Fame career.

Woody Williams

In May 2000, Williams reported numbness in his right throwing arm and hand. The diagnosis: an aneurysm in his armpit, a rare ballooning of the artery that can have disastrous results if left to erupt. Williams’ defective artery was surgically repaired at Scripps. Two months later he was back on a Big League mound; he eventually became an All-Star and World Series starter.

Doug Brocail

Brocail’s chest tightness in early 2006 led Scripps and Padres staff to order a stress test, which showed a 99-percent blockage of a coronary artery — a potentially deadly condition if undetected. After Scripps performed the second of two procedures to clear multiple blocked arteries, Brocail rebounded to become the first to compete in a major pro sports league after angioplasty.

Chris Young

When Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols smashed a line drive into Young’s face in May 2008, the damage was devastating. Young suffered a fractured skull, deviated septum, broken orbital bone and multiple nasal bone fractures. He had surgery at Scripps and was back in a Major League lineup 10 weeks after the incident. Despite the layoff, he started almost 20 games in 2008.

Phil Nevin

The Padres three-time MVP dislocated his left shoulder in Spring Training 2003 and was widely expected to miss the entire season. At Scripps, he had surgery to anchor his torn labrum with a screw and sutures, and had his shoulder capsule tightened. By July ’03 he was back in the Padres lineup — 73 of his 208 career homers came after the operation.

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