Back Up

Every once in a while, a team is bitten by the "injury bug." That means that a number of their players get injured at the same time, or a player is injured just before a big game. Take a look at this year's New York Mets team. Three of their best hitters, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran, have all missed time because of injuries. In this year's NBA Playoffs, the Boston Celtics had to play without their star center, Kevin Garnett, who was injured. When Garnett was healthy last season, the Celtics won the NBA championship. This year, they lost in the second round of the playoffs.

How do you beat the injury bug?: Unfortunately, there's no real way to avoid injuries. Players stretch and exercise to keep their muscles strong, but there's no surefire way to prevent them. The best way to stop the injury bug from hurting a team is to have good back-up players. This is called depth. If a team has a deep roster, with lots of good players ready to replace ones who get injured, a team can give their injured players time to heal. On Thursday, the Orlando Magic began playing the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Orlando's starting point guard, Jameer Nelson, is injured and might not be able to play. But the Magic have a deep bench, and Rafer Alston as a back-up point guard. Alston can play the position just as well as Nelson.

Coming Back: It's not easy to come back from an injury. Depending on how serious the injury is, a player might have to go through a long period of rehab, where they regain strength in the injured part of their body. Even when their bodies are healthy again, an athlete might have to play a few practice games to get back into playing shape. If a baseball player hasn't swung a bat in a while, he will have to take some time to get his timing back. If a basketball player hasn't shot a free throw in a few weeks, she may have to practice for awhile to get ready to play games again. The Anaheim Angels have a pitcher named Kelvim Escobar. Escobar had shoulder surgery, and hasn't pitched in a Major League game since 2007! After more than a year of recovery he is finally ready to come back and will pitch for Anaheim this week.

You probably know somebody who has gotten hurt playing sports. Maybe it's a sprained ankle or a pulled muscle, or even a broken bone. Injuries happen, even to the strongest professional athletes. It's all part of the game, but determination and hard work help get injured athletes back on the field.

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