Bell Faces Unknown; Could Be Lost For Season

David Bell is a tough player. Early in the season, he crashed full speed into the fence surrounding the Veterans Stadium infield and got right up to return to his position. He plays hurt, is a good clubhouse guy and has a fire to win. That's why when David Bell says he can't play, the pain has got to be pretty bad. When he gets close to returning from the DL and calls a halt to the plans, something is definitely up.

For David Bell, aches and pains are nothing new. They don't keep him from playing and the thought that they could be signs of something more serious never enters his mind. Now though, those kind of thoughts are ever present for the first-year Phillie.

Bell returned to Philadelphia Sunday to undergo more tests to determine the cause of pain in his hip and also to search for a way to end the recurring headaches he's had since taking a prescription pain killer. From the first dose, Bell started with dizziness and headaches, which are common side effects. Doctors told Bell to stop taking the medication and the problems would disappear. They haven't. That's what is causing concern for Bell as he searches for answers.

Besides the new problems, Bell is still bothered by a sore hip. Originally, it was thought that the hip pain was because of a back injury that was putting extra pressure on Bell's hip. The back injury is pretty well healed and if that was the only problem, Bell would be back on the field. Just like the headaches though that were supposed to go away, the hip problem has hung around long after it was thought it would be a distant memory. Again, just as with the headaches, Bell is concerned about the hip and what long-term problems it may cause.

One theory is that Bell has developed arthritis in the hip and will need more rest followed by physical therapy to recover. Even then though, he will likely be bothered by pain throughout the rest of his career and need occasional days off because of the problem. There is also concern that the hip pain could also be the sign of other back problems, which can cause pain in different parts of the body. One of the concerns is spinal stynosis, a narrowing of the spine that causes a lot of pain. Former Phillie Lenny Dykstra's career was cut short by the problem and that diagnosis could be a worst case scenario for Bell.

The back pain actually started during spring training and continued as the season started. At first, the pain wasn't too bad and didn't hamper Bell much. Playing on the Veterans Stadium turf certainly didn't help and could have added to the pain and the severity of the injury. A few times, Bell thought that the pain was gone, only to have it return. Finally, Bell wound up on the DL on July 11th and figured to be back right around the end of July. That was pushed back to early August and now, the Phillies fear that he may be lost for the rest of the season. Quietly, some in the organization fear that Bell may never be able to be the player that they thought he would be for the Phillies and that his best playing days are behind him because of the injury.

For now, everything is just speculation. For as bad as things seem, it's possible that Bell could quickly recover and be back in the lineup before too long. The headaches may simply be lingering as a result of medication and the hip could be a minor condition requiring just a little more rest and time to heal. Whatever the prognosis, Bell is hoping that the tests that he's undergoing in Philadelphia will give definitive answers and allow him to know when he may be back in the lineup for the Phillies.


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