February 13, 2008


A sleeper in Sox' bullpen: After surgery for his apnea, Hansen works on solid rest (Gordon Edes, February 13, 2008, Boston Globe)

Sufficiently concerned about why he seemed to be tired no matter how many hours he'd slept, and told that there were times he'd wake up in the middle of the night choking and gasping for air, he submitted to a round of testing of his sleep patterns. He was hooked up to equipment that monitored his heart, lungs, and brain activity.

Finally, an answer: Hansen was suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax. When that happens, according to MayoClinic.com, the airway narrows, or closes, and breathing may be inadequate for 10 to 20 seconds, leading to a drop in blood oxygen.

"Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway," the website states. "This awakening is usually so brief that you don't remember it."

These interruptions, which often are accompanied by a snorting, gasping, or choking sound, can occur 20-30 times an hour for someone with obstructive sleep apnea, interrupting deep sleep without the person knowing it. In Hansen's case, he was told it was happening 56 times an hour, which basically means he was getting just a couple of minutes of rest per hour.

"I had no clue," he said. "I thought I was getting eight hours' sleep and wake up still tired. I was basically getting two hours' sleep total."

Hansen said he informed the Sox of his condition. Surgery was required to correct the condition, but with spring training about to begin and the operation requiring a month's recovery time, the decision was made to postpone his surgery until after the season.

He underwent the procedure in November, after spending some time pitching in the Arizona Fall League while the Sox were playing in the postseason. The surgery, performed by Dr. Mack Cheney at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, involved the repair of a deviated septum as well as the removal of his tonsils. Essentially, he said, doctors had to fracture his nose to fix the problem. [...]

Hansen said he went willingly to Arizona for the Fall League, which is traditionally a steppingstone for players on their way up to the big leagues, not a place for those who already have been there. Fellow reliever Manny Delcarmen, he said, proved he deserved to be back in Boston; Hansen acknowledged he still had work to do.

But he's excited, he said, that with the help of Pawtucket pitching coach Mike Griffin, he has greatly improved the mechanics on his slider, the pitch - along with his high-90s fastball - that had set him apart in college.

Basically, the Sox version of Joba is unlikely to make the big league team. Nice luxury.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 13, 2008 12:03 AM


This is edition what, 100?, in the ongoing series, "why does Hansen suck?" Iirc the last one was that Hansen's agent was tinkering with his mechanics behind the Sawx back.

Watching Sawx (and Pats' for that matter)fans try to explain why their team loses, players don't live up to the hype, etc., is like watching Oliver Stone explain the Kennedy assassination or Birchers talk about fluoride in the water.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 13, 2008 11:17 AM

Not live up to the hype? They're wearing the ring.

Posted by: oj at February 13, 2008 12:35 PM

Hansen's wearing a ring? What'd his boyfriend buy him one?

Next up in the continuing series: "Why a witchdoctor's hex means Daniel Bard wasn't a waste of another Sawx first-round draft pick." To be followed by "Dick Cheney was on the grassy knoll," and "the NFL didn't want the Pats to win the Superbowl."

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 13, 2008 12:52 PM

When you have four first round picks and already got a premiere offensive guy you can afford to play with pitchers. Bard projects as a Hansen, Joba-type set-up guy.

Posted by: oj at February 13, 2008 7:48 PM