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.