Spring training is the time of year when everyone's future is wide open and anything can happen. It's the time of year when players get into shape and play around with new skills. It's the time of year when fans come out to sit 20 feet from their favorite players and beg for autographs. It's the time of year when Joe Schlabotnik IV, wearing number 86, might face off against Señor Spielbergo (number 93) in a game-changing situation.
And it's the time of year for injuries. They happen everywhere: in the World Baseball Classic, in spring training games, in the hotel room, in dreams, at the car wash, and just about anywhere else you can imagine.
[Molitor] was trying to catch [teammate Dave Engle] who had passed him in a lap run. As they neared the end of the lap, Molitor went into a slide and tried to grab Engle's foot.
But as Engle's foot was moving backward, it hit Molitor's right ring finger and dislocated it. The collision also resulted in a torn ligament in the joint of the finger.
The dislocation was so severe that Molitor's finger had to be cut open so the ligament could be pulled out and repaired.
To be clear: while running harmless laps in spring training, future Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, a man known for his injury problems early in his career, tried to dive and grab the foot of a running teammate nearby, who ended up blindly kicking Molitor in the hand so hard that his finger was dislocated and the ligament torn.
Molitor did feel really bad about it.
"I've had injuries, but it's the first time one has come from being foolish or careless," Molitor said Friday, wearing a metal splint.
"It wasn't the result of a game injury, so naturally it causes a little more frustration and you second guess what you're doing.
"But it wasn't like a premeditated wrestling match. It's just something impulsively that happened."
The accident took place on March 30, with Opening Day only four days away. Molitor would go on to miss the first seven games of the season, coming back just in time to kick off a four-game winning streak. Those would be the only games Molitor would miss all season. The Brewers would go on to an 81-81 season despite a solid season from Molitor and Robin Yount earning his second MVP award.
As Glenallen Hill, Jeff Kent, and Hanley Ramirez can tell you, injuries can happen to anyone at any time. Paul Molitor's 1989 fight with Dave Engle's shoe is just another example of that age-old truism.