Chavez says every day is “a huge hurdle to climb physically”

Platoon splits abound in Yankees' lineup
Game 61: Trap

The Yankees brought Eric Chavez back late in the offseason to help fill out their bench, and so far he’s performed well enough — 91 wRC+ in 99 PA — in more playing time than anticipated due to various injuries. Things seem to be going fine on the surface, but Chavez told Ken Rosenthal that just getting ready to play every day is a chore following years of back, neck, and shoulder injuries.

“(Each day is) a huge hurdle to climb physically,” he said. “Once I get to the park, I’m constantly going until the end of the game. If I sit down for 15-20 minutes, it takes me that much longer (to get loose again). It’s non-stop. You’ll never see me in the dugout for more than one inning. I’ve got to keep moving. I’ll go to the cage, keep the blood going as much as I can.”

Chavez also said only two teams — the Yankees and White Sox — expressed interest in him this offseason, and he would have been content to retire if things didn’t work out with New York. We know he’s an injury risk and all that, but it’s pretty crazy to hear what he has to go through every day just to prepare for a game. Not being able to sit on the bench for 15 minutes because it’ll take too long to warm back up is … unnerving.

Platoon splits abound in Yankees' lineup
Game 61: Trap
  • Rich in NJ

    He’s a true professional. I think a young SS/3B backup with upside is a significant need as Jeter and A-Rod approach 40, but until/unless that happens, Chavez and Nix are doing ok to this point.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Sucks to be him man…that’s rough. Hats off to the balls it takes to do this.

    • Weeks

      Hell, I’d do that for however many millions of dollars he’s getting paid.

      • Nark

        less than $1 million, he’s making “only” $900,000 this year.. but hell yeah i’d deal with the warming up stuff if i’d banked over $75 million by age 34

        • A-Rod’s Wingman

          Yeah sure he’s rich but he’s what 35 and his life is already significantly changed for the worse. Chances of him living a normal life going forward aren’t good. Do you think he’ll be able to walk up stairs on a regular basis when he’s 50?

          • RetroRob

            He’s playing as a professional athlete at 35. I can’t imagine why he would fall apart to the point he can’t walk upstairs in 15 years! Back problems require constant exercising, something he’ll need to do the rest of his life, but probably not anywhere near to the degree he’s doing it now.

            Mattingly had daily back exercises he did for years when he was playing. I wonder if he still does them, or if his back even bothers him now that he’s not playing. Probably does.

            • Jimmy McNulty

              Well it’s back, neck and shoulder problems. That’s where a lot of your movement is right in that area. Those types of problems tend to get worse as you age, ligaments take extra damage, tendons get worn out faster, muscles take longer to heal, and all of those things are easier to hurt.

    • Dropped Third

      He plays a game for few hours… My 69 year old grandpa who is still climbing ladders and swinging a hammer because he cant afford to retire would laugh at this

      • Jimmy McNulty

        See this is dumb. Your grandfather likely has no marketable skills, whereas Eric Chavez is better at baseball than your grandfather and everyone you know is at anything. Also, just because someone has it worse doesn’t mean that others can’t have it bad. My friend lost use of his legs at age 12, he’d be laughing at both Chavez and your grandpa. He can’t get an erection and he’ll die a virgin. That’s probably a worse situation than what most people have. Does that mean that I can’t recognize that other people have shitty things that happen to them? Please. It still sucks that the injuries he suffered will likely change his life forever, it’s not like football where he’s not compensated half of what he’s worth or where he has brain damage and likely can’t get around that well past his 50s, but his life will probably be significantly different than most of the people we know. Swinging a hammer at age 69? Yeah Eric Chavez probably won’t be able to do that unless he’s doped up off his ass. He won’t ever get to give his grandkids a piggyback ride either. I’m not blaming the game or anything like that either, baseball players usually live full and healthy lives after the game. Joe Morgan and Ozzie Smith seem to be getting around just fine. I am interested to see what shape Nolan Ryan’s arm is in and I wonder what Mark Prior’s life is like in 20 years, but overall they seem to do okay. It’s usually only football players that have their lives altered after their careers.

    • Kiko Jones


  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to bode well for him still contributing late into the season and into October.

  • cr1

    I wish I could remember which athlete answered (after being asked what was most different for him in retirement) that the greatest difference was not having to crawl from bed to the bathroom in the morning, because at the end of his career he couldn’t stand when he first woke up.

    • Paul VuvuZuvella

      Sounds like Mickey.

  • Jonathan

    I can relate. I’ve had 11 surgeries on both knees, my back, shoulder blade and right shoulder and it took forever to get loose and then I’d have to stay loose. My college coach would never give me the courtesy of giving me time to warm up and was a total prick. He benched me because I stretched before running, even though I did all the pregame running and calisthenics with the team. I’d always be running down and back on the foul line during pitching changes and in between innings. My injuries made me a DH so I was always spending time on the bench. And that asshole made me catch bullpens even after I couldn’t catch in games and even though we had 7 guys who caught them. I’d have 5 knee surgeries and had to have someone throw the ball back but he can’t have a healthy 18 year old just do it. Our first game of the year back in 2008 was February 2nd too. It was impossibly to stay loose. Much props to Chavez for staying. I have no doubts he loves the game of baseball, even though it took his ability to live comfortably in his body.

    • Nark

      i think the $75 million should help him live comfortably.. get some robot legs!

      • DannyC


      • Jimmy McNulty

        The 75M would certainly help, but he’s probably banked a lot less than that. The money goes a lot faster than you think, most athletes get shitty financial advice, help out their parents more than they should, have too many leeches around them, and taxes (property and income), fees, and agent costs take out quite a bit of that too. Medical care is extremely fucking expensive too, especially if you’re a former baseball player with all of these pre-existing injuries. I’m sure his health insurance premiums will be insane, not to mention the physical therapy he’ll need to live as normal of a life as he possibly can. I know it’s a bit different but, I’ve seen multimillion dollar estates completely drained by medical costs.

        On the outside, he’ll probably still it better than you or most of the people you know, but he’s also has more marketable skills and made people more money than you ever will. He was an all-star third basemen, which puts him in the top thousandths of a percentile of baseball players in the world. So he likely should have it better than you and most of the people you know. Still though, there’s plenty of former athletes with injury problems that would trade all of their wealth just for the ability to live a normal life. When you’re in excruciating pain just getting out of bed and movement is a chore, being able retire in your 30s doesn’t really mean much. It’s not like you’ll really enjoy it like a healthy person would.

  • stephen hawking


    that dude is messed up

    • 28 in 2012

      i laughed

    • Strat

      I laughed too. :)

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    Those paragraphs are amazing insight into the issues with Chavez being ready to play. The Yankees to sign him must be really positive on his ability to perform.

    Chavez must really love the game because its not about the money that he signed for.

    • Fin

      Obviously he loves the game. However, a million bucks is still alot of money and more than he would make doing anything else. I love how people dismiss a million dollars a year like its nothing, you people must make a ton of money.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        Income is all relative. If your job is flipping burgers you really aren’t generating all that much wealth, but when you’re a part of the product that a major league baseball team puts on the field you’re generating considerably more. 900K a year is a lot of money, more than most of us will likely make in a year, but A.) he works harder than most of us do, B.) he has more marketable skills than most of us do, C.) he’s better at what he does than what any of us do, and D.) he has more expenses than most of us do. Not only does he have to put himself up he also has to pay upkeep on where his family lives. Journeymen can’t just move their families wherever they go.

        Keep in mind I’m not saying he got a raw deal, just that athletes’ lives are a lot different than what most people think they are. Musicians’ lives are a hell of a lot different as are the lives of lawyers’, I’m unaware what movie stars and Wall-Street types’ lives are like…those are the other two glitzy glamor high paid jobs that people tend to scoff their struggles. I had a friend that worked on Wall-Street and he worked 100 hour weeks, unaware what he got paid…he said he got paid enough to justify it, but the dude went to Harvard and did pretty well there, so I’m sure he’s making bank, but the hours and the stress wear on a person I’d assume. Of course he’s the only one I know, so I can’t really make a comparison just based on that too,.

        • Kiko Jones

          I’ve heard people in their 20s/early 30s, who work in law firms or on Wall St, complain about their health as if they were senior citizens.

  • 28 in 2012

    Sounds like me in this hell-hole that I work in except its the mental hurdle I have to climb each day.
    Chavez, Ibanez and Jones are some cool characters to have on the team. Beats the Sheffields, the Kevin Browns, the Chacons and the Ponsons by a few miles…

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

      Sounds like me in this hell-hole that I work in except its the mental hurdle I have to climb each day.

      To quote that great American philosopher, I don’t have anything to add, it was just worth saying again.

  • Fin

    No wonder he would rather retire than sign a minor league deal. Sounds like this might be the last go around for Chavez.

  • Wyatt

    Reminds me of what Mattingly went through in the last few years of his career…

  • Wyatt

    Reminds me of what Mattingly went through in the last few years of his career.

  • RI$P FTW

    Just retire.

  • Unravelled Santana

    This is crap! There are so many hard working Americans busting their butt to feed their families. Yes the guy plays hard and yes his body has taken a beating through the years but he is playing a game that he loves and is being paid VERY well for it.

    • blooper

      Where in the post did you hear him complaining? Sounds as if he’d agree with you. Rosenthal reported this, it’s not as if Chavez was buttonholing reporters trying to get one of them to write about how tough he has it.

    • Mike R.

      The problem is you brushing off “his body has taken a beating through the years.”

      You think because Chavez busted his butt to become a major leaguer he’s less of a person?

  • Nathan

    I give the guy a lot of credit. He’s earned quite a bit of money during his career so it would be easy for him to just call it a career but he’s grinding it out for a chance to get a ring. It isn’t as if he’s making big bucks anymore so all the more reason to admire his dedication.

  • Mike R.

    Wow some of you guys are completely missing the point. Just because he plays baseball and makes good money doesn’t mean he didn’t have to deal with a dozen surgeries to his back and neck.

    Some of you guys have to get your priorities straight, because money doesn’t magically fix chronic injury and other guys having similar problems or worse with less money doesn’t make Chavez a whiner.

  • J

    Chavez is probably one of the most standup/real athletes I’ve seen in a while. Yes hes made 75 mil over the course of his career. However, in sure he’s been living like someone who’s made 75 mil. But the catch is he’s only 35. He’s has to support 3 kids, send them through college. Downsizing isn’t as easy as one would think either. He’s used to living within his means as someone who generates millions a year. His expenses on a YTD basis are much different then most.
    You guys are also all overlooking what it has to feel like going from projected hall of famer to only playing 150 games in 6 seasons, he wants a ring, he wants what he diserves.

    • Weeks

      True, but nobody ever put a gun to a ballplayer’s head and told him to spend all the money he makes.

      That said, I generally do respect professional athletes and what they go through to maintain peak performance. Just to be at the professional level in any sport requires huge amounts of discipline and dedication.

      But to put things in perspective, think for a minute what pro cyclists go through. Every single day for 11 months out of the year, these guys undergo 6 hours of intense training on the bike, get 10 hours of sleep, and count calories to an almost granular level. No time for fun stuff. They are not employees of the teams they ride for, but independent contractors who must buy their own health insurance and drive themselves to the airport to get to races thousands of miles away. And when they crash, they have no body armor or padding to protect them, just a skin-tight layer of polyester. It’s like getting thrown out of a car going 30-45 mph. They’ll often break bones yet continue racing. Look at the medical history of your typical pro cyclist who’s been racing for 10 years and you’ll see a history of broken bones, punctured lungs, concussions, contusions, the list goes on. And they do it for like $20,000 a year.