Last seen in the Mariners clubhouse nearly two weeks ago, Braden Bishop sat at his locker and described what he thought was a cramped muscle in his shoulder, an injury that forced the rookie center fielder to remove himself from the Mariners’ game against Houston earlier that night.
That was June 4. After a restless night, Bishop got up the next morning and checked in with Dr. Edward Khalfayan. That’s when he learned the real nature of his injury, and this was no muscle cramp.
Before the Mariners’ series opener Monday against Kansas City, Bishop was back in front on his locker for the first time since having emergency surgery June 5 to repair a ruptured blood vessel in his spleen.
Hearing details of his ordeal was enough to leave those huddled around his locker a little light-headed.
“I knew something was wrong. I just didn’t know what,” Bishop said. “So I went to see Dr. Khalfayan and the look on his face told me it wasn’t something small.”
Bishop, the former University of Washington standout, had been recalled from Class AAA Tacoma on June 2. Unknown to him at the time, his abdomen already had been slowly filling up with blood — the result of a 97-mph fastball to the ribs during a game with Tacoma on May 31.
“I’ve been hit a lot … (and) it felt like a bruise. It didn’t hurt to hit, throw, run,” he said.
So there he was in the starting lineup for the Mariners against the Astros on June 4, leading off and playing center field. But after the fourth inning, he pulled himself out of the game.
“Bleeding … filled up my stomach to the point I couldn’t function anymore,” he learned later.
After meeting with Dr. Khalfayan the next morning, they both walked to the Harborview Medical Center emergency room.
“Then we actually ended up walking five blocks to Harborview ER and they did a CT and they found a torn blood vessel in my spleen,” Bishop said. “Then, basically, within 21⁄2 hours I was going in for a procedure to glue it shut and stop the bleeding. It was really scary, but at the same time the ability of Dr. Khalfayan and Dr. (Stanley) Herring and then the whole staff at Harborview to act like that, so quickly — I felt like if there was any place I was going to be, that was the place to be.”
Bishop was ordered bed-rest for 24 hours in the hospital after his procedure. He didn’t eat anything for two days, and the first four days of recovery were awful, he said.
“They did the procedure and told me I wasn’t going to feel much different,” he said. “They had to stop the bleeding, but I already had so much blood in my abdomen that they said it would take seven to 10 days to reabsorb. So the first four days were very uncomfortable and painful.
“It was something I would not wish on anybody,” he added.
He estimates he lost five or six pounds, though he actually hasn’t weighed himself recently.
As for his recovery, Bishop will take his time to get back on the field.
“Any time you’re dealing with an organ, you don’t want to rush it,” he said. “I think this is the one time and the one injury I’ve had where you don’t want to rush it either. So, luckily, they fixed the problem, and I’m sure it’ll be a slow recovery. If I can get back in six weeks, eight weeks, I would be happy with that, to get (the final) two months of the season (to play).”