PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Eric Chavez flashed a wry smile as if he knew the first question he’d be asked Tuesday before the words even hit the air.
“It’s a knee, it’s a hip, I’m seeking a second opinion from a guy in New Jersey,” Chavez joked.
Jokes aside, no second opinion is necessary for Chavez’s latest trip to the 15-day disabled list — and second of the 2013 season — but that doesn’t make the bump in the road any less frustrating.
After playing 113 games for the New York Yankees in 2012, Chavez thought he had turned a corner from the walking DL candidate — played in only 212 games from 2007-11 — to a guy who could effectively contribute to a contending team’s run to October.
The latter was his hope when he signed a one-year deal with the D-backs in December 2012, but the 35-year-old has also been consistent with his message since the moment the ink dried.
“Yeah injuries suck, it’s not fun,” Chavez said. “I think the biggest difference for me [between this season and last season] is I had a lot of at-bats at DH in New York. This year, I’ve had to play the field a few more innings.
“I’ve said it from day one, I could play two or three days and I’d be available to pinch hit whenever. But once you start extending that out past the comfort zone, things are going to happen.”
While Chavez’s aging body has betrayed him at times this season, his bat has not.
In 62 games, the six-time All-Star has been an important fixture in the heart of Kirk Gibson’s batting order, hitting .299 with nine home runs, 40 RBI (most since 2007) and an OPS of .869.
So although his reputation of being an oft-injured veteran still precedes him to some degree, given the D-backs struggles offensively, Gibson’s hand has been forced when it comes to playing time.
Although the D-backs manager lightened Chavez’s workload directly before and after the All-Star break, the six-time Gold Glover started in eight of nine games from July 23 to August 1.
And, around that time is when he started feeling pain in a place that had never previously derailed his career, the left knee.
“I played through it for three weeks,” said Chavez. “We’d treat it and some days it’d feel good and others it wouldn’t. But I never had pain in my knee before, so I kept saying, ‘Let’s just go I don’t care.’ Once you start having that chain reaction of events, though, you have to kind of step back and take care of it.”
The chain reaction Chavez referenced was caused by an overcompensation taking place at the plate, leaving not only his left knee strained but his right hip sore, as well.
Both injuries have Chavez sitting on the sidelines again, but while he isn’t eligible to return until August 25, the veteran infielder said he’s optimistic in a few days that he’ll be able to get back on the field.
“I will probably hit in Arizona [when the team is on the road],” said Chavez. “The good thing about these injuries is when they heal in two or three days, or whatever it is, I’ll be able to resume baseball activities. I might play in a game next Saturday and Sunday, and when they come back [on August 26] be ready to play Monday. If they want that, of course.”
For now, he’s taking care of business — drained fluid from his knee Monday and had a cortisone shot in his hip Tuesday — and fielding injury questions in stride.
If it seems like Eric Chavez has life on the disabled list down pat by now, it’s because he does.