Bears

Phegley Battles Through Trying Season

Phegley Battles Through Trying Season

Saturday Sept. 4, 2010
Posted: 12:05 p.m.
By Kevin T. Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

Josh Phegley had been nicked and dinged with foul balls before. Some hurt more than others but whether the ball smashes into your thumb and splits it or just glances off your chest protector, getting hit is the part of a catchers job that is unavoidable.

So when Phegley, 22, took a ding off his thigh back in April, he didnt think much of it. A simple foul ball that grazed off his glove and hit him in the thigh was commonplace. This time, however, the bruise that impact made began to grow, reaching nearly 12 inches. It was at that point that Phegley, the player whom the White Sox chose with the 38th pick in the 2009 draft, realized there was a problem.

I just started to notice some red dots, Phegley said. It was almost like a bruise but the dots were passive and I was thinking what are these? And then I ended up getting the bruise on my leg and it was 10-12 inches wide. It didnt go away and that was my first indication that something was wrong.

The Chicago medical staff ran some blood work on Phegley and he continued to play for Winston-Salem of the Carolina League. When it was determined that he was suffering from a condition known as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura ITP, he was immediately placed on the disabled list and began to medication to help alleviate the problem.

ITP is a bleeding condition in which the blood doesnt clot as it should. Its caused by a low number of platelets in the blood. The little dots that Phegley saw on his skin are known as petechiae and often look like a rash.

I never had a problem before that and I felt totally normal, said Phegley, who is finishing out this season with Double-A Birmingham. I never had anything like this in my life. It just came on. My blood work checked out fine in spring training. Theres no known cause and Ive spent this year trying to get back on the field because of it.

After the first time you get it, theres more of a chance of getting it again than any other person. A high percentage of people never get it again. But the entire time I had it, I never felt any different. I felt totally normal.

Yet, there could have been serious consequences had Phegley continued playing after he was diagnosed. Had he suffered an injury that resulted in bleeding, the results could have been devastating. So, the White Sox put him on the disabled list after he played on April 15 and he didnt return to action until he began his rehab assignment with Bristol on June 22.

Phegley played at Bristol and then again with Winston-Salem for two weeks before going back on the disabled list for three weeks in July. He finally returned to action on July 30 and spent a little over two weeks in the Carolina League before moving up to the Double-A Southern League.

The last game I played in April before I had my blood ran, I had a collision at the plate with the Nationals Boomer Whiting, Phegley said. Hes a small guy, about 150 pounds. If it was a bigger guy, I could have gotten a concussion, which is basically a bruise in your head, and it wouldnt have stopped bleeding.

When my platelets are low, I start to get those spots because my capillaries are thin. I can start bleeding out so a big gash is more of a risk. If Im playing the outfield, it wouldnt bee as much of an issue. The fact that any ball can be fouled off me makes it a risk.

Despite understanding the risks and issuing a warning to himself, Phegley said he never considered moving out from behind the plate. He has controlled his condition with medication and gets his blood checked regularly to make sure his condition was temporary and not chronic. He will continue to get his blood checked weekly until long-term stability is evident.

If everything checks out fine when I get my blood done I dont even think about it, he said. It was just kind of a fluke disorder that came out of nowhere. And I love catching so changing positions hasnt even crossed my mind.

Phegley is hitting a combined .274 through 45 games at the three levels this season. Hes got four homers, driven in 21 runs and was named as one of the White Sox who will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this season.

Hes been using what time he has spent on the field this season wisely. Phegley is working with the more experienced players at the Double-A level and getting used to a game that moves much quicker than it does in the Carolina League. Hes worked with catcher Cole Armstrong and pitching coach JR Perdew on slowing the game down and will take what hes learned into the AFL season.

I missed a lot of this year so Ill be going to the Instructional League for a while, too, Phegley said. The Fall League is basically going to be my season. Im pretty excited to get going.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: