Weatherford Wrangler Ben Petralli

Wrangler Ben Petralli puts on the brakes at third base after getting the sign from Wrangler head coach Jeff Lightfoot during a recent Wrangler home game.

Jimmy Ivey
Weatherford Democrat

Weatherford Wrangler catcher/third baseman Ben Petralli spent some time this summer getting healthy before he could get out of his funk on the field.

Last baseball season, Petralli had to sit out the entire year at Sac City College in California due to a broken first rib. After he was released around the end of April, Petralli has been trying to knock the rust off.

In the process of doing that, he hit another stumbling block.

“It was my second at-bat this summer with the Wranglers,” Petralli said. “I hit a ground ball and I was trying to leg it out. I just felt something grab on the way down to first base. It started out not too bad, but it just kept getting worse and worse.”

After consulting a physican, Petralli was diagnosed with a sports hernia.

A sports hernia is defined by WebMD as a chronic pain in the groin with no obvious sign of a hernia. The University of Michigan Health System’s Web-site defines a sports hernia as a tear in the muscles of the lower abdomen, causing pain in the lower abdomen or groin.

“A sports hernia is basically pulled muscles down in your hip area,” Petralli said.

Before the diagnosis, Petralli tried to play with the hernia.

“It really bothered me when I caught,” Petralli said. “Just when I went to squat or block a ball. It would really bite. It would hurt when I would rotate my hips, so I had to alter my swing. It just got me in a little funk. Instead of rotating my hips, I would drift forward and it would not allow me to hit an outside pitch.”

Even in everyday life, it caused discomfort.

“When I would stride with my right leg, it was more like a sharp pain — a pinch,” Petralli said. “Last year, I had a medical red-shirt because of broken first rib. So I came into [TCL] a little rusty. Then with that sports hernia, I couldn’t get healthy.”

The pain won out, and Petralli went and had a physican look at it. Luckily for Petralli, it was not very severe, like in the case of Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Donavan McNabb, who had a sports hernia repaired with surgery after his season ended due to injuries.

“It was not as severe,” Petralli said. “I had more of a pull. I took some time off. We did some stretching, ultrasounds, and icing.

“Surgery was never really an option. It lasted about two weeks, where it bothered me.

“I feel a lot better now and I can squat without pain. I can hit without pain.”

Petralli did get down though during the injury, as he could not stay healthy.

“It was pretty tough,” Petralli said. “With that red-shirt last year and the broken rib, I was getting frustrated. I could not get healthy. But, now I am just happy to be back in there feeling good.”

Even before the hernia, Petralli knew he needed to get rid of some rust, but he did not know where. It took Petralli some time to make up his mind, especially after getting drafted for the third time, this time in the 17th round to the Detroit Tigers.

“This year, I got pretty decent offer,” Petralli said. “It took me a while to make up my mind, but I decided that the best route for me to go was to go to school as long as I can.

“I had not really made up my mind to play for the Wranglers. I had not played for six months, so I wanted to ease into it. I did not want to rush into it and get hurt again, but it turns out that I did anyway.

“It is great being back in Weatherford. I feel at home. I played ball in high school with a couple of guys on the team. It has been fun.”

The experience has left Petralli even wondering if he will return to Sac City, or transfer to Weatherford College.

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