At some point, you have to start wondering what Mat Gamel did to tick off the baseball gods.
The Brewers first baseman will miss the entire 2013 season after re-tearing his right ACL during the team's first full-squad workout this past Saturday. Gamel was pulled from that workout after "tweaking" his knee once while stretching to make a play at first, and again while swinging a bat. This morning, an MRI revealed another tear.
Apparently, tearing a repaired ACL is incredibly rare — assistant general manager Gord Ash was told that failures only happen 10% of repairs. Even more rare is the fact that Gamel tore the middle part of the repair, when most tears come at either end of the ACL.
So in case you were wondering, yes, if there's a freak injury to be suffered, Mat Gamel will indeed suffer it.
Gamel originally tore the ACL on May 1, crashing into a barricade in San Diego trying to make a play on a foul popup. He came into spring training this year at or near 100%, and again had a chance to earn some consistent playing time (something that's been hard to come by — only 269 career plate appearances in 5 seasons) with Corey Hart on the shelf for the first month or two of the season with a knee injury of his own.
Once one of the better prospects in baseball (he ranked 37th on Baseball America's pre-2009 list), Gamel has seen his career derailed by injuries. This is the fourth time in five seasons that the 27-year-old Gamel has suffered an injury during spring training. In 2011, he strained an oblique at the start of camp that kept him out until mid-March. In 2010, he suffered a tear in his latissimus dorsi that landed him on the 60-day DL (later that year, he was shut down for surgery to fix a foot problem that also plagued him). In 2009, he missed enough time with a shoulder impingement to miss out on the starting third base job that ultimately went to Casey McGehee.
Now, the Brewers are left scrambling for another replacement at first base. They were rumored to be in the running for Lyle Overbay, but the former Brewer opted for a deal with Boston instead, citing more opportunity to stick on the big league roster. As of now, the Brewers' external options seem to be limited to Carlos Lee, Aubrey Huff, or Mike Carp, who was recently designated for assignment by Seattle.
Internally, the Brewers will likely turn to Taylor Green, who started 14 games at first for them last season, or Alex Gonzalez, who's never played an inning anywhere but shortstop. Hunter Morris — the team's Minor League Player of the Year and the Southern League's MVP from last season — is also a possibility, but has yet to play above Double-A, and the Brewers have historically been reluctant to let their prospects skip Triple-A Nashville (and start service time clocks before they have to).