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An untimely goodbye for Oakland A’s 3B Eric Chavez.

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Oakland’s third baseman Eric Chavez has dealt with injury after injury since signing a six-year, $66 million contract in 2004.

First it was an ailing right shoulder. Then it was his left shoulder. Next came the back problems. Then it was the right shoulder again. And when things didn’t look like they could get any worse, Chavez hit the disabled list with nerve inflammation in his right elbow and forearm early this season.

News broke today that the six-time Gold Glover’s career is effectively over if his back goes out once more. California doctors notified Chavez that he would need a spinal fusion the next time and would not be given any more temporary remedies.

When asked about the severity of the injury, Chavez responded, “Pretty much game, set, match.”

I'm sad to see you go #3.

Obviously, the amount of activity he’ll be able to do during a rehab assignment is going to be extremely limited. Coaches are going to have their fingers crossed everytime Chavez lifts a weight, throws a ball, fields a grounder, swings a bat, picks up a bag of groceries, bends down to get into his car, or whacks off. The likelihood of a comeback seems bleak.

This news can best be described as sad and unfortunate. Chavez holds a small, albeit special, place in baseball history.

Chavez was one of baseball’s first “moneyball” players. The term, coined in Michael Lewis’ book of the same name, characterized Oakland General Manager Billy Beane’s new breed of player that focused on on-base percentage rather than traditional statistics. Beane was so impressed with Chavez’s dedication to taking walks and playing conservative baseball that he signed Chavez to the now-infamous deal, a rare leap of faith from the usually cautious, use ’em-then-lose ’em GM.

While Chavez will never be remembered as nothing more than an “average” offensive third baseman by today’s standards, he will be remembered as a premier defensive player who controlled the hot corner whenever he was healthy enough to.

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