From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- If Adrian Peterson can do it, maybe Robert Griffin III can, too.Peterson set an incredible standard this season for NFL players returning from major knee surgery, nearly breaking the NFL single-season rushing record. Griffin need look nowhere else for an inspiration as the Washington Redskins quarterback begins the road back from an operation Wednesday on two ligaments in his right knee."I think it gives motivation to everyone," said Russ Paine, a physical therapist in Houston who worked with the Peterson as the Minnesota Vikings running back went through rehab.Griffin had his lateral collateral ligament repaired and his ACL reconstructed for a second time. The surgery was performed in Florida by orthopedist James Andrews, who was optimistic that Griffin would be back on the field this fall."We expect a full recovery, and it is everybody's hope and belief that due to Robert's high motivation, he will be ready for the 2013 season," Andrews said in a statement released by the Redskins. "The goal of his treatment is to give him the best opportunity for a long professional career."But no two athletes -- or knee surgeries, for that matter -- are exactly alike, so pinning down a date for Griffin's return is an inexact science. Complicating matters is that Griffin tore the ACL in the same knee in 2009 while playing for Baylor.University of Maryland head team physician Craig Bennett said football players typically need seven to 11 months to return from a second ACL reconstruction, but that it often takes up to a year for the ligament to be fully healed."Typically your first season back from an ACL reconstruction, there's a tendency to have some struggles from time to time," Bennett said.That's what made Peterson so remarkable. He tore an ACL in late December 2011 and was the league's best back in 2012.Paine said Peterson's focus and intensity in rehab and natural athletic gifts made the quick recovery possible. Many say Griffin has those same qualities, and he was sounding an upbeat tone on Twitter even before the surgery began early Wednesday morning."Thank you for your prayers and support. I love God, my family, my team, the fans, & I love this game. See you guys next season," Griffin tweeted.While Griffin heals, the debate will continue as to whether he should have been on the field when he hurt the knee for a final time in the fourth quarter Sunday's playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.Griffin reinjured his knee in the first quarter and was obviously hobbled, but he stayed in the game after convincing coach Mike Shanahan that all was OK."People can limp around; people can be hurting," Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young said Wednesday. "Some of the great John Wayne hero things that have ever happened in football happened because people play hurt."The first major injury to Griffin's knee was the torn ACL in the third game of the 2009 season with Baylor, when he was hurt on the opening drive against Northwestern State but kept playing until halftime. Griffin missed the rest of the year but returned in 2010 and won the Heisman Trophy in 2011.Griffin's first notable injury in the pros was a concussion early this season, which led the quarterback to learn to protect his body better while running the ball.But last month, at the end of a 13-yard scramble, he sprained the LCL when he was hit by Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Griffin missed one game and returned to play in three more while wearing a bulky knee brace, his mobility clearly hindered.On Sunday, Griffin hurt the knee again as he fell awkwardly while throwing a pass late in the first quarter against the Seahawks. He was mostly ineffective the rest of the game, completing only four passes after that drive.Griffin finally departed with 6:19 to play in the game, after the knee buckled while he was trying to field a bad shotgun snap.The No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, Griffin was one of several rookie quarterbacks to make an instant impact on the NFL this season. He set the league record for best season passer rating by a rookie QB and led the Redskins to their first NFC East title in 13 years.Griffin's knee has kept the nation's capital on tenterhooks all week. He was hurt Sunday. Then Shanahan announced Monday that a second opinion was needed.Then on Tuesday came word that surgery would be taking place. Wednesday was the actual surgery. While it was taking place, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray said he will invite Griffin to watch President Barack Obama's inaugural parade on a reviewing stand outside the district government building later this month."I'd love to have him come, but ... he obviously may be unable. His mobility may be impaired somewhat at that point," Gray said. "My focus right now is on having him successfully get through the surgery."
At the height of Tommy Hottovy’s illness, Cubs manager David Ross had to take over the pitching coach’s duties on his regular video conference with pitchers.
“When he spoke, he couldn’t get two words out without coughing,” Ross recalled Friday, before the Cubs’ first day of Summer Camp.
Hottovy, 38, battled the novel coronavirus for a month, while baseball was still on hold due to the pandemic. He finally got his first negative test back a few weeks ago. Hottovy was upfront about his condition with the pitchers, and on Friday Ross said he wanted Hottovy to speak in a team meeting.
“Just because he is such a powerful resource,” Ross said. “… He’ll be a god guy to go to if guys have questions.”
Hottovy’s story includes a fever that kept him awake from midnight to 6am every night, viral pneumonia that required breathing treatments, a trip to the hospital that he packed a bag for in case he had to spend the night.
Hottovy was isolated from his family for a month, sequestered to a spare bedroom their house, and he still felt guilty for putting them at risk. Those precautions kept his wife and two young children from contracting the virus from him.
“It’s very scary, and it’s awesome for him to share his story with us,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “There’s a lot of people unfortunately who have gotten this and were not able to tell their story, were not able to see their families for one last time. And it’s unfortunate. You can’t take days for granted.”
Utility man Ian Happ stayed in Arizona after MLB shut down Spring training in March. He lived with Cubs reliver Dakota Mekkes during that time.
“Dakota would be on the pitchers calls,” Happ said, “so you kind of got to walk the journey with Tommy a little bit and check in on him as he was going through it. And I think his experience, his story, it’s incredible. Not testing negative for 30 days and the impact that had on his family and everyone around him, I think it really puts it into perspective.
“It tells guys how serious this is and how cautious we need to be. Not just for ourselves, but for our teammates, their families and for everybody who’s working hard to be here for us.”
As far as COVID-19 testing goes, the Cubs opened Summer Camp on an encouraging note. League protocol restricts Ross from saying if any Cubs have tested positive, but he did say he expected all players who were scheduled to report Friday would be in camp. Two staff members did recently test positive at home and were expected to miss the beginning of camp, general manager Jed Hoyer announced earlier this week.
League-wide, only 1.2 percent of players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 during the first week of intake screening, including 31 players. The league’s 101-page 2020 Operations Manual is designed to keep that number low. But the health and safety protocols are only as good as the clubs’ compliance.
“Every single person in the organization,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said, “every player, ever staff member, everyone in uniform, out of uniform, we all have to make great decisions, exercise great disciple, hold each other accountable, collaborate, go into it with an open mind and exercise real personal and collective responsibility.”
If that message wasn’t already clear, Hottovy’s experience put it into sharp focus.
As the Cubs on Friday opened their second shot at a first impression this season, they were at full strength — minus one dishwashing mishap. And to hear the manager talk, they might be ready to play games as quickly as anyone in baseball.
Manager David Ross, who let the news slip during a Zoom session with reporters that all the Cubs players tested negative for COVID-19 during intake screening, already has his replacement pool in place for starter Jose Quintana (badly cut thumb/dishwashing), plans the team’s first intrasquad game Saturday and would seem to have very few job battles open in this three-week training camp.
“Thankfully, we’ve had a group that stayed ready,” Ross said, “and taking live batting practice, and [pitchers] have been throwing live bullpens and followed the protocols that our coaches have set out.
“All of them look like they’re in phenomenal shape.”
Spoken like every manager on every first day of spring training. Except it was July, in Chicago, with three anxious weeks between now and the scheduled openers of a 60-game sprint of a would-be baseball season.
So, strap on the mask. Snap on the latex gloves.
And count the Cubs’ blessings as things open up:
— Aside from left-hander Quintana, the fourth starter whose season is in doubt as the Cubs await the progress in a few weeks of the surgically repaired nerve in his thumb, the Cubs expect to have everybody else scheduled to be in camp available for workouts, Ross said. This while teams such as the Phillies (four COVID-19 cases) and the Angels (nine inactive for undisclosed reasons) deal with more severe roster losses from the outset.
—Even Quintana’s loss has already, presumably, been replaced by sixth-man Alec Mills — whom Ross has “a ton of confidence in” — with right-handers Colin Rea, Adbert Alzolay and Jharel Cotton in the wings as rotation depth and candidates to fill Mills’ swingman/long role in the bullpen.
“We’ve gotten a lot of good reports back from the work that Colin Rea’s put in,” Ross said. “Jharel Cotton is a huge pickup, especially in this shortened season — and not having a lot of innings under his belt the last couple of years. And he feels really good and has stayed sharp. So, we’ve got some good options to fill that void internally that I have extreme confidence in.”
As for looking for outside help with Quintana down, Ross called that a “wait and see” proposition for front office bosses Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. “Jed and Theo are working hard on all areas of that.”
—Did somebody say job battles? When last they trod the diamond in March, the Cubs essentially had only a few bullpen spots, the center field mix (Albert Almora Jr., Ian Happ or a combination of both) and second base (Jason Kipnis and/or Nico Hoerner) to figure out. But with a 30-man roster to start the short season, all four of those position players should not only be on the roster but also be in position to play significant roles. And the additional spots for pitchers figures to make some of the bullpen calls less fraught.
“We’ve got a little more leeway for some [roster] expansion,” Ross said. “But those pieces are going to be important, and they’re going to have value when they are on this team. So, you’ve still got to look at them through the same lens in putting the best group that you can together.”
—Did somebody say they’ve got to get a look at guys in competitive situations? Ross said enough pitchers have stayed on top of their throwing programs that his starters are ready to throw three innings out of the chute. Consequently, intrasquad games start Saturday, though Ross is ready to employ pitch limits and hamstring-forgiving guidelines for base running the first several days.
Still, as past Cubs managers have often learned the hard way, Ross seems to understand this will be no push-button operation, especially under these trying circumstances over these next few one-day-at-a-time weeks.
“It’s not something we can map out and say this is how we’re going to run things,” Ross said. “We’re going to take feedback from the players and when we can push them a little bit harder, we’re going to push them, and when we feel like we’ve got to back off, we’ll slow things down a little bit.
“Everything we’re having to do now is unique.”