After Joe Palumbo’s 2020 well being disaster, Rangers plan to begin him slowly in ‘21
Here’s what Joe Palumbo wants you to know about his years of battling ulcerative colitis: Not a ton.
Gut Habits, Cramps, and Weight Loss. It’s not exactly a conversation over dinner.
“I was in no real pain,” said Palumbo of the Rangers Spring Training Camp in Surprise, Arizona on Saturday. “But all I can really tell you is that it was just urgency. I’ll leave it at that. I think you could use your imagination. But it wasn’t fun. I hope I never have to experience anything like this again in my life. And I hope nobody else has to go through it. “
This is often the case in approximately 3 million Americans dealing with inflammatory bowel diseases, which include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease: they suffer in silence. Discussing the subject is often as embarrassing as the pain associated with it.
The 26-year-old Palumbo is at least the third player in the Rangers organization to have dealt with IBD in the past five years. Reliever Jake Diekman, now at Oakland, and Kyle Gibson both suffered from debilitating relapses. Diekman described his fight against diseases from which he has suffered since he was 11 years old. This eventually led to surgery to remove his colon, which cost him most of the 2017 season. Gibson was diagnosed in Minnesota in 2019 and struggled with drug and diet changes.
On Saturday, the 26-year-old Palumbo tried to put his own journey into words for the first time since his 2020 season flared up. The words didn’t come easily. It was first diagnosed in 2016, but medication had controlled it well. Then came 2020.
What started with a few minor symptoms during spring training resulted in fatigue and “urgency”. On July 26, the first weekend of the late season, he threw up two impressive innings, then ran out for a third, and his pace dropped significantly due to the fatigue associated with ulcerative colitis. Five days later, he threw himself against three other thugs. That was his season.
It only got worse.
On August 10, he turned to his cousin, Jeremy Larkin, with whom he lived, and said, “I think I have to go to the hospital.”
“At the beginning of the spring training last year it was very manageable,” said Palumbo. “I could come out on the field and do what I had to do and play in games. It was slow progress, but eventually it got to a point where it was extremely serious and my quality of life was no longer the best.
“When I say someone is taking me to the hospital, there is obviously something wrong,” he added. “But my symptoms were just out of control.”
He was there four nights. After his release, he continued to lose weight, dropping a total of 30 pounds before stabilizing. Doctors eventually switched him from an oral drug to an injectable immunosuppressant to offset the hyperactivity in his immune system, which can lead to inflammation associated with IBD.
He slowly gained weight again. He started throwing. With the help of Rangers from Rangers nutritionist Stephanie Fernandes, he was able to restructure his diet and gain weight again. It is not an easy task. Foods that go well with one ulcerative colitis patient may not work for another.
“What we’ve learned is that every disease is individual,” said Fernandes, who helped transform Gibson’s diet. “And the conversations and experiences are all unique. It’s about being able to pan or knowing when to pan. People have the same illness but different experiences. “
For example, Palumbo had to change his 4,000 calorie protein shakes that allowed him to gain more weight before 2020 – and he was thinking about more strength -. There was a lot of liquid in the shakes and a lot of calorie density. These may have contributed to the appearance of symptoms. The Rangers have simplified the ingredients, reduced the calories, and Palumbo has also given up the idea of adding bulk to be effective.
He was nearly 200 pounds when camp started last year. After falling to 165 at the height of its flare-up, Palumbo has returned to around 185.
“It was probably too tough to start last year,” said manager Chris Woodward. “He wanted to be stronger. But strength and weight don’t always go together. You can still be strong without gaining a lot of weight. “
The Rangers will slowly go with him too. Woodward, who was once considered the prime candidate for a rotation point, stated Saturday that the plan for Palumbo is likely to be an auxiliary work for 2021.
“I don’t want to rule it out, but I think this is progress,” said Woodward. “I don’t want to be irresponsible. He basically didn’t serve last year. It’s in full swing right now. He feels healthy. His arm feels good. He has trained and come up with some ideas on how to change his lifestyle. Now all he can do is focus on baseball. “
Which would be nice.
The ulcerative colitis flare up was the fourth straight year that his rise to the majors was distracted by a health problem. He appeared to be in the fast lane in 2017, but suffered a ligament rupture in the ulnar collateral ligament mid-season and had to be operated on by Tommy John. That got him out of the 2018 season. In 2019 he reached the big leagues for the first time, but repeatedly dealt with bladder problems. Then came 2020.
“To be honest, I just want to be on the field,” said Palumbo. “I want to be on the hill that I want to make. I just want to show what I can do. Because I know I can do it. I know I have what it takes to play in the big leagues. At this point, it’s all about being healthy. “
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