Growing up as a pitcher and reaching a high level of play, Matt Meyer had felt plenty of discomfort in his left arm over the years. But recently he began to feel something different.
The Rochester native, and former minor-league player, was experiencing fatigue and had a "dead shoulder" despite limited pitching this year with the Rochester Royals amateur team. His hand would also get cold, and as a couple of weeks went by, he started to have some concerns.
"It just didn't feel right," he said.
His wife encouraged him to see a doctor and he obliged. Two Fridays ago he went in for tests and was told he had no radial pulse in his left arm.
"That was kind of scary," Meyer admitted. After more tests it was revealed he had a large blockage in his shoulder, with a blood clot in the artery. He was told there was a two percent chance he could lose his arm and was whisked into surgery later that day.
Dr. John Stone and his staffed worked on Meyer's shoulder for more than four hours. The surgery was a success as the staff was able to remove the clot.
"Dr. Stone and the crew did a phenomenal job," Meyer said. "It went well."
While the 32-year-old Meyer is expected to make a full recovery, there is one major drawback. It has to do with throwing a baseball.
"The advice was to stop playing baseball completely," Meyer said. "They thought that was probably the cause."
As a result, Meyer's baseball career will come to an abrupt end. He was one of the most accomplished pitchers ever to come out of Rochester.
"Obviously it's a big loss," Royals player/manager Drew Block said. "He's kind of been our ace the last two or three years."
"It's frustrating because I still like playing the game and I like competing," Meyer said. "But it was a fun career."
AN IMPRESSIVE CAREER
It was a career that included a stellar run at Mayo High School and then playing for a Division I program at Boston College. Following college ball, Meyer was drafted by the Cleveland Indians. He played seven years in the minors in the farm systems for Cleveland, St. Louis and the Los Angeles Angles.
He reached the Triple-A level with the Angels in 2011 and 2012, just one step below the Major Leagues. Some of his old teammates include current Minnesota Twins Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez, both catchers, and Buddy Boshers who, like Meyer, is a left-handed pitcher.
Meyer then spent two years with the St. Paul Saints, an independent pro team. After he left pro ball, he returned to Rochester and started playing with the Royals in 2015. He helped the Royals earn Class B state tournament berths each of the past two years and started on the mound in the first round each year.
"Everybody on the team likes him so it's a bummer," Block said. "He's a veteran guy and a leader so when you lose a guy like that, it doesn't help."
"I still love being around the game," Meyer said. "It's going to be tough to be there and just watch when you're still competitive."
Meyer is at the age when a lot of left-handed pitchers are just hitting their prime. Lefties who can get elite hitters out in the Majors are always in demand, and some have very lengthy careers just as specialists.
"It was random, out of the blue," Meyer said of his shoulder injury. "It didn't hurt, it just didn't feel right. It happened quick."
Since his days as professional baseball player, Meyer has been transitioning to the real world. In 2015 he started working in medical device sales, which involves making sales of artificial hips, knees and, coincidentally, shoulders to hospitals. He spends a lot of time talking to surgeons.
"It's pretty impressive what they can do," Meyer said. "I'd rather be on that end than the receiving end."
Meyer and his wife, who works at the Mayo Clinic, have a young family with a 3-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter.
"It's a lot of chasing around the house at this point," he said.
Meyer said he plans to continue to work with young pitchers in the area, especially those with the Royals. And while he's still at an age where he could play, he won't be tempted to have another surgery to try and prolong his career.
"It's keep the arm or play amateur baseball," Meyer said. "I choose the arm."