Post-Dispatch baseball writer Hummel is coming off the DL –

Longtime Post-Dispatch and Hall of Fame baseball writer Rick Hummel has been on the media version of the disabled list, as he is recovering from a compression fracture of a vertebra as well as a nerve ailment in his right leg.

“I’m all right,” Hummel said Thursday. “The leg’s a little bit sore, but I’m coming along.”

He was injured Feb. 3 after giving a speech in his hometown of Quincy, Ill.

“One of the guys asked me to meet him for a drink afterward,” Hummel said. “I said, ‘I don’t drink anymore,’ but I went out and met him and a friend of his at a bar/restaurant.”

After Hummel arrived, he saw from afar those he was meeting.

“They were waving at me from the other side of the bar, and there was a little step-up from the floor of the restaurant to the floor of the bar,” Hummel said. “I tripped over it and wrenched my back. I could tell right away.”

His pain must have been obvious, because Hummel said the people he was meeting asked if they could take him to a hospital.

“I said, ‘No, I just want to get back home,’” Hummel said. “I put my coat behind me (for support in the car on the drive of about 2½ hours to St. Louis) and called my doctor on the way home. I couldn’t get in that day, so I went to an urgent care place and they said it was a strained muscle.”

He was given exercises to do and began feeling better, so much so that shortly thereafter he headed to Florida to cover Cardinals spring training for the Post-Dispatch and its website,

“But then some of (the discomfort) started shifting to the right side of my leg,” he said. “It got really painful” and some of the Cardinals’ medical personnel checked it out. “Finally I got in for an MRI and X-Ray on Monday, and they discovered there was a (compression) fracture of the L4 vertebra” in his lower spine.

He saw an orthopedic specialist and is taking medicine for the leg pain. Surgery is not planned on the vertebra, but he was told to wear a back brace for six weeks.

“It’s uncomfortable,” he said. “I take it off to sleep, it’s a giant thing. And it’s hard to eat.

“But I should be OK by opening day” of the regular season, on April 2, he added. “That’s my goal. I’m on the 60-day DL.”

Well, not exactly. After a few days off, he resumed writing on Thursday, doing a piece for publication Friday. Then on Saturday he plans to be involved in the coverage of the Cardinals’ first exhibition game. That’s his 71st birthday.

The injury “could have been a lot worse,” Hummel said. “Luckily they figured out what it was. The Cardinals’ medical people really have been great helping get me through this.”

And he wants to get through four more years on the job, which would put him at age 75 and give him 50 years at the Post-Dispatch.

Meanwhile, there is a twist in his current health situation that Hummel finds somewhat amusing.

“I haven’t had a drink in 17 years, and here I get hurt walking into a bar,” said Hummel, who at one time could set the standard in watering holes across the big leagues. “How’s that for a punchline?” Dan Caesar


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