Hays details core injury sustained in May

The swings that show how Orioles outfielder Austin Hays is making a successful recovery from core surgery also can be done with a hammer.

Hays apologized yesterday for being late for a phone interview because he was busy working on the construction of a batting cage at his home in Orange City, Fla., which sits in the middle between Orlando and Daytona Beach.

“I have a warehouse at my house that I bought last offseason,” Hays said, “and we put a net up in here and I got the turf put in two days ago and now we’re just getting the net set up to where we’re not going to hit it with our swings and stuff.”

Using a bat, of course.

Hays was placed on the injured list twice with a strained hamstring, but there was much more happening than revealed to the public.

The second hamstring injury was related to a core issue and cost Hays another three weeks. He returned for a June 11 game in St. Petersburg, Fla., appeared in a career-high 131, and finished with 26 doubles, four triples, 22 home runs and 71 RBIs.

The usual red-hot finish awaited Hays, who hit .284 with a .921 OPS, seven doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 22 RBIs in 30 games in September/October.

And then he underwent sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia two days after the season, with Dr. William Meyers handling the procedure, as he did with former Orioles Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Hunter Harvey, Henry Urrutia and Tim Beckham.

Let Hays explain his ordeal.

Thumbnail image for Hays-Swings-Black-Fenway-Sidebar.jpgWhat exactly did you have done after the season?
“Technically, it was a sports hernia surgery, but I didn’t have any gaping holes where anything was coming out or any knots. It was right where your ab connects to your pelvis and it was basically just deep patching right there. My left side was almost completely detached and then my right side was starting to tear, so they did a bilateral hernia surgery. They had incisions on both sides and he basically reattached everything.”

You didn’t go on the IL with this injury, so when did this happen?
“This happened in May. We were playing against the Yankees. Tyler Wade hit a blooper over third base, and I was going all out and it was a full-extension dive. I had some issues that were going on with it and when I went on the IL the second time for the hamstring, it was actually because I’d been playing with this injury for about a month and I was overcompensating and my hammy was taking all the work from me running weird and trying to compensate for this injury.

“Originally, I went on the IL for the hamstring, but my hamstring was feeling better pretty much right away. Probably after a week, I was fine to run, but I was still having a lot of issues with the hernia, so we rehabbed the core and it started to feel better and I grinded out the rest of the year with it.”

Looking back, as usual, you had a really strong finish to the season. How do you explain being able to do that with this injury?
“Originally, he had told me if I tear it all the way across, I might feel some sense of relief actually, and there was a ball that Joey Wendle had hit over my head when we were at home. I was running back for it, and I had this kind of weird jump and I felt like of a pop, and initially it hurt pretty bad. And then the next couple days I started to feel better. That last month and a half of the season, I was almost able to run up to about 85-90 percent with no pain. It was just when I really, really had to push, it was the only time I was feeling it.

“It was feeling better and when we got another MRI at the end of the year, it showed that it had gotten worse and it had torn pretty far across on the left side and it was going to take surgery to fix it.”

How long did the surgery last?
“I think it’s only 15 minutes. It’s a really, really short procedure. They just put me under and did that, and I woke up and I went back to the hotel, and did three days of rehab there, which they want you to start walking right after. So the next morning at 8 a.m., I went and did my PT and walked around and did some core stuff and groin stuff, and I did that for three days and then we made the trip home.

“I’m glad I played through it, though. I’m glad I was able to salvage the year.”

What are you able to do now?
“I feel like I would be perfectly fine running and hitting and throwing, but I think in another two weeks is when we’re going to start the throwing and hitting progression. But as of right now, I’ve been running on the treadmill, doing box jumps, lunges. I started my lifting program this week with actual weights. All the stuff I was doing before was just body weight. But I haven’t had any pain really. I still have a little bit of tightness around the area, but everything’s going according to plan. In another couple weeks, I’ll start throwing and hitting.”

When you look back at your season, are you pleased with the overall body of work, especially given what you were going through physically?
“Yeah. I proved to myself that I can play through an injury and something that’s nagging and is there. Our strength and conditioning staff and our training staff did a really good job of helping me just keep my body healthy enough to go out there every night and do what I needed to do.”

How do you hope to build off this season besides what I assume is No. 1, to stay healthy and 100 percent throughout the course of next season? What else are you looking to do?
“I think I did a lot better job later in the year of not missing good pitches to hit in the zone and I was laying off those tough breaking balls that were borderline pitches and I wasn’t expanding the zone with two strikes, and I think that’s what allowed me to start to hit for power and kind of do what I’ve done in the past.”

Has this surgery impacted your hunting or anything else you might normally be doing this time of the year?
“I got some good family members that tell me they’ll do everything they need to do, where I’ll just go out there and basically sit and pull the trigger and they’ll pull the deer and do everything else that actually requires any physical stuff. I’ve still been able to go and sit and hunt.

“I did a month’s worth of rehab and then I took my yearly Missouri hunting trip and took a week off to just let my body rest, and this week I felt really, really good after that last week of rest.”

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