Woody Williams,Pitcher,San Diego Padres
NAME: Woody Williams
TEAM: San Diego Padres
POSITION: Starting pitcher
INJURY: Aneurysm in pitching arm
OTHER ATHLETES AFFECTED
Baseball: David Cone, New York Yankees; John Olerud, Seattle Mariners, brain
aneurysm; NASCAR: Lee Petty, stomach aneurysm; Women's College Basketball:
Barbara Williams, USC, brain aneurysm
Woody Williams is a starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres. At 33, he is
an eight-year veteran. Over the last four seasons, Williams has found his niche
as a starting pitcher, going 34-37 over that span. This season, Williams is 3-2
with a 5.21 ERA after starting six games. While at the University of Houston,
he earned All-Regional honors as a shortstop.
Although performing well for the Padres throughout the start of the season,
Williams suffered from numbness and poor circulation in his pitching hand. This
began to concern team trainers and eventually team doctors, and it was found
that Williams had a tiny blood clot in his forearm. This prompted testing that
showed an aneurysm that affected a blood vessel just below his armpit.
WHAT IS AN ANEURYSM?
An aneurysm is an outpouching of a blood vessel. In this instance, the
diseased vessel becomes misshapen and can no longer properly carry blood. This
can lead to blood clotting, and the vessel can breach. It can develop due to
specific trauma or a weakness in the wall of the blood vessel. As a pitcher,
Williams was slightly prone to developing this type of injury due to the
repetitive strain and stress that is put on the tissue and blood circulatory
system of the shoulder. The aneurysm was found in an artery called the
posterior circumflex humeral artery, the exact same place from which Dave Cone
had an aneurysm removed four years ago. This artery forms near the armpit and
supplies several muscles around the shoulder.
Aneurysms are diagnosed by arteriograms (also called angiograms). This is a
scan that shows the structure and condition of blood vessels in the body.
Doctors suspected Williams had an aneurysm because he had felt numbness and
lack of circulation in his fingertips, and the discovery of a small blood clot
in his forearm prompted immediate testing.
This type of injury is treated exclusively with surgery. For the patient to
regain feeling as well as circulation, and to decrease the risk of future
clotting, the aneurysm must be removed. In the procedure, the affected or
diseased portion of the vessel is removed from the body, and the remaining ends
of the blood vessel are fused together. Often, a blood vessel graft is used to
spread across the gap made by the removal of tissue.
This injury cannot be prevented.
As this injury is similar to that of David Cone, it is reasonable to expect
a similar recovery. Williams will probably miss about 4-6 months. Over this
time, he will be healing from the surgery and then beginning the slow process
of regaining the strength and mobility needed to pitch at the major league
level. Once physically mended and suitably recovered from surgery, he will take
part in a rehabilitation program that begins with throwing from flat ground. As
he builds stamina and can throw harder and for a longer period of time, he will
begin to throw from the mound. Once physically fit, he will begin a minor
league rehab assignment, and after working through the ranks of the minors, he
could pitch for the Padres by September.