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Troy Tulowitzki diagnosed with ‘hockey goalie-baseball pitcher syndrome’ (but what is it?)

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(AP)

After visiting with several stumped doctors and specialists while searching for an answer to what's causing the persistent discomfort in his left groin, Troy Tulowitzki finally received a clear diagnosis on Wednesday.

The news was not exactly good, either, as he'll be forced to undergo surgery on Thursday for an injury you may have never heard of — an athletic pubalgia known as "hockey goalie/baseball pitcher syndrome."

We know what you're saying: What the heck is hockey goalie/baseball pitcher syndrome and how does it happen to an infielder?

Well, the injury can loosely be described as a sports hernia, but it is not technically classified as such. Our understanding is that it means Tulowitzki sustained a single tear or multiple tears in his groin at some point, which led to the muscle fibers folding inward and becoming entrapped as the torn layer heals.

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The procedure to heal the injury is described as a surgical management of chronic lower abdominal and groin pain in high-performance athletes. That means it's most common in athletes who twist, pivot and torque their bodies in unnatural ways, such as hockey goalies and baseball pitchers as the title describes. It also happens to running backs.

It's unclear how often, if ever, this injury has occurred to a position player, but it's honestly not difficult to understand how it could happen to Tulowitzki, because watching him in the field is like watching a hockey goalie or NFL running back making cutbacks and quick pivots, only he's doing them on a 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame, and he's doing them every single night.

It's also possible Tulowitzki overcompensates in some ways after suffering a torn left quadriceps in 2008, which could have led to more wear and the eventual tear(s). But again, I'm not a doctor and I certainly don't have all of the answers on this one. It's also an entirely new injury to me, and judging by the amount of time it took Tulowitzki to find as answer, it's a unique injury many doctors and specialists are in the process of learning about themselves.

The surgery will involve the removal of scar tissue that has been impacting a nerve and will cost him eight more weeks on top of the three he's already missed. But since there was a genuine concern the injury could involve the hip labrum, this isn't the worst-case scenario for Tulowitzki and the Rockies.

That's the medical side. On the baseball side, one has to wonder if this could be the beginning point for the Rockies to consider moving Tulowitzki away from shortstop. I'm not saying the Rockies will go to him tomorrow with that suggestion. I know for a fact Tulowitzki wouldn't be receptive to that at this point in his career. But somewhere down the line he's going to move to third base.

Perhaps now those discussions begin to take place internally with a more serious tone, and perhaps the original timetable to make that switch, whatever that may have been, just changed a bit.

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