Colorado Rockies outfielder David Dahl is approaching one of baseball’s longest-standing rookie records: The longest hitting streak to start a career.
The Rockies rookie has recorded a hit in all 15 games since debuting July 25. Only Juan Pierre, with his 16-game streak in 2000, and Chuck Aleno, who had a hit in his first 17 games with Cincinnati in 1941, have longer hitting streaks to start a career.
Dahl will go for 16 on Wednesday night against the Texas Rangers. Even if he goes hitless, he will still own at least one (admittedly peculiar) rookie record: The longest hitting streak ever to start a career for a player without a spleen.
Yep, you read that right.
Dahl had his spleen removed in 2015 after enduring a nasty collision on May 28 while with the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats in Connecticut. The injury occurred when Dahl, playing center field, shortstop Trevor Story and second baseman Juan Ciriaco all converged on a shallow fly ball in the outfield.
As Dahl closed in to make the catch, Story peeled away. Ciriaco, though, kept pursuing the ball. Dahl slid to make the catch, and as he was headed toward the ground, Ciriaco’s knee caught Dahl near the left side of his rib cage. The baseball dribbled to the ground.
“I just slid, and he tried to jump over me,” Dahl said. “He got me with the knee right here in the perfect spot.”
Dahl lay on the grass in a heap. He felt a sharp paint in the left side of his body. He couldn’t breathe. He felt nauseous. Teammates surrounded him, and a trainer rushed out onto the field.
Paramedics arrived and rushed Dahl to Hartford Hospital. Doctors determined after a CAT scan that Dahl sustained a Grade 4 spleen laceration (Grade 5 is the most severe) and was dealing with internal bleeding. They quickly went in to stop it.
Once Dahl was stabilized, doctors presented him with two options: Let the spleen heal on its own, which would force him to miss several months of action and also put him at risk of re-injuring it when he returned. Or have the organ removed, which would put him back on the field faster.
You don’t absolutely need your spleen, but you are at a higher risk for infection without one.
Dahl and his family talked it over and went with option No. 2. Doctors performed a splenectomy. Six weeks later, Dahl returned to the baseball diamond — healthy but a little bit lighter.
A little more than a year later, Dahl, 22, has made it to big leagues and is giving Colorado a spark. He’s recorded 22 hits, slugged three home runs and is slashing .373/.403/.610 in 15 games. His torrid start to his big-league career didn’t exactly come out of nowhere; Dahl was Baseball Prospectus’ 31st ranked prospect at the start of 2016, and he tore up Triple-A prior to the promotion.
But still … nobody expected this.
“It’s pretty cool to see how far I’ve come over the last year or so, being up here,” Dahl said Tuesday. “I’m just doing my job and trying to help the team win. It’s pretty cool to think back where I was and where I am now.”
“It was very scary,” said Story, one of Dahl’s close friends on the team who got an up-close look at the injury. “Any time you lose an organ like that, it’s not good. He’s a special kid.”