Knee pain making Antonelli a spectator
Padres prospect receiving cortisone shots for rare ailment
SAN DIEGO -- It wasn't a cake Matt Antonelli received to commemorate two months in Arizona recently, but yet another cortisone shot for his aching right leg which has been a conundrum for the Padres' medical staff.
While Antonelli's peers are well into regular-season play in San Diego and with Triple-A Portland, the second baseman is stuck in Peoria, Ariz., attempting to recover from the persistent pain just below his knee that just won't go away.
"I hurt it the second day of Spring Training and didn't think it was a big deal," Antonelli said on Saturday from the Padres' Spring Training facility. "I woke up the next day and I could barely walk. I missed a few days, played on it and it started hurting a lot."
Antonelli, who hit .250 in 32 at-bats this spring, really started to notice the pain after he was moved to Minor League camp in March. And while many of his teammates from a year ago with Portland moved on, he remained behind.
"When I was sent to Minor League camp, I had tests done, took a week off. I was hoping rest would take care of it," Antonelli said. "I came back at the end of spring ... but it still hurt. I got a cortisone shot, it didn't work, then another [shot] trying anything to figure it out."
Antonelli has been told he has an injury to his tib-fib joint, which is located between the tibia and fibia. To date, he has received three cortisone shots to alleviate the pain, though the first two were nothing but short-term fixes.
"Before I got the second cortisone shot, the doctor looked at me and said that in his 20 years of sports medicine he had never seen anyone with this injury," Antonelli said.
Antonelli, who was ticketed for a second season with Portland, had a third shot a week ago and said his leg feels better.
"I think we may have got it," he said.
Antonelli returned to practice on Friday and was able to hit and run on the leg. He has been told that if he can play between five and six games at 100 percent that he will be able to leave Arizona and join a team in the farm system.
"I want to show them I can play in back-to-back games," Antonelli said. "Starting Monday, I hope that I can go all next week, every day. It's been rough, but I feel a lot better. But I want to get to the point where it's 100 percent."
When that happens, Antonelli hopes to return to Portland where the first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft (17th overall) hit .215 in 128 games last season.
"This has been disappointing. I worked so much in the offseason on speed and getting my body into good shape," Antonelli said. "Last year, I felt kind of sluggish running. But I cane into Spring Training feeling the fastest I've been. Three days in, I hurt my leg."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.