Outfielder David Dahl, the Colorado Rockies' top prospect, underwent surgery to have his spleen removed Monday at a Hartford, Connecticut, hospital, four days after being involved in a serious collision while playing for the organization's Double-A club.
Dahl made the decision after consulting with the Rockies, said his agent, Adam Karon. Dahl was initially expected to miss the rest of the season while his lacerated spleen healed. Now he is hoping to return in four to six weeks, said Karon, who said the recovery period for the surgery is similar to having an appendix removed.
"David has put in an incredible amount of work the last two offseasons, and he just couldn't fathom the idea of a shortened season," Karon said. "That's what I think drove his thinking.
"A normal person would just leave the spleen in. But for an athlete, there's an additional risk of the spleen rupturing again in a collision. David said, 'I can't play the rest of my career worrying about this, and I don't want to miss any more time this year than I have to.'"
Karon told The Associated Press after the surgery that he had spoken with the family and "everything went according to plan."
Dahl, 21, was the 10th overall pick in the 2012 MLB draft out of Birmingham, Alabama. He was hitting .269 with a .675 OPS in 44 games with Colorado's Eastern League affiliate in New Britain, Connecticut, at the time of the injury. He ranks 27th on Keith Law's list of MLB's top prospects.
"In talking to David and our medical team -- and really making sure we all got on the same page with what was best for David -- this is the decision we came to," said Zach Wilson, the senior director of player development for the Rockies. "It's the right choice for his career and also his life.
"There's no doubt in my mind he'll be back and better than ever, playing the way he's accustomed to playing."
The spleen acts as a filter for blood as part of the immune system and also helps fight infection. Karon said Dahl will need to have yearly pneumonia vaccines when he gets sick and take other precautions to ensure that minor illnesses don't escalate.
"There are some challenges he'll have to deal with for the rest of his life," Karon said.
Dahl was pursuing a shallow fly ball in center field in Thursday's New Britain-Altoona game when he collided with second baseman Juan Ciriaco. He underwent emergency surgery to repair a lacerated spleen but did not suffer a concussion or broken rib, as was initially reported.
A day after the collision, Dahl tweeted a statement, thanking everyone for their support:
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.