KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Royals designated hitter Jose Guillen had a terrible time with injuries in 2009, dealing with a partially torn right hip flexor, a sprained right knee and general right leg ailments that ended his season early in September.
That was nothing compared to Guillen’s offseason.
Guillen told The Kansas City Star he had surgery on his ankle and lower back and then developed blood clots that caused his legs to swell so severely that doctors were concerned he may not live through it.
“I almost died last year from blood clots in my legs,” he told the newspaper.
Guillen said he spent 20 days in St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, suffering through a rigorous treatment plan of medications that weakened him and caused him to lose more than 15 pounds. Doctors told him his situation was similar to former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas, who died from a blood clot after a car accident 10 years ago.
“The doctor started talking about dying,” he told the Star. “I didn’t even know what a blood clot was. It was so bad that I couldn’t feel my legs. I remember going through an airport and having to use a wheelchair. I could not even walk.
“I lost all of my strength, and I was real skinny. I thought I would never play baseball again. I just got off the medication a week before spring training.”
When approached by The Associated Press before Kansas City’s game on Friday night against the Minnesota Twins, Guillen declined to discuss the issue further, only saying that he is feeling great this season.
Manager Trey Hillman said before the game that he “was aware of everything that happened,” but did not elaborate.
“He’s done a good job,” Hillman said. “A very good job.”
The numbers back that up.
Guillen is off to his best start as a Royal, batting .361 with five home runs in his last four games. It’s the first time he has hit homers in four straight games, and he is the first Kansas City player to do it since Carlos Beltran in April 2004.
It’s been an impressive bounce back from 2009, when he hit just .242 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs in 81 games.
Guillen said he is still not back to 100 percent from the ordeal, and the best is yet to come.
“Just watch,” Guillen said. “That’s all you have to do. Just watch. What you see is what you get.”