The Padres' top middle-infield prospect is pursuing a coaching job with the organization after a rare, complex, inner-ear condition put an end to his playing days.
Shortstop Drew Cumberland enjoyed a breakthrough 2010 season in which he appeared in the Futures Game and hit his way to Double-A San Antonio, but the 22-year-old has been diagnosed with bilateral vestibulopathy, which affects his balance and vision and renders him unable to play baseball at a high level. Bob Heist of the Pensacola News Journal has full details of Cumberland's ordeal in a must-read story.
"I just couldn't take it anymore—the dizziness, the blurred vision, the headaches," Cumberland told Heist.
"What Cumberland was experiencing, as a battery of doctors and specialists have determined over the past four months, were the effects from repeated concussions and a condition where the major nerve of the inner-ear was not sending signals to the brain for balance and vision."
Cumberland has spent the entire 2011 season on the San Antonio disabled list. His condition, initially described as vertigo-like symptoms, first surfaced near the end of spring training, but Cumberland has been dealing with wooziness and memory loss since high school.
"The inner-ear condition, however, wasn't Cumberland's only medical problem. Concussions, most small and created by what many athletes would consider inconsequential impacts, ultimately ended his career.
"It was the reason, complicated by the inner-ear issues, he would spend days in a hazy state and created the headaches that doctors tried to treat early on with medication for migraines."
The Padres selected Cumberland with the 46th pick of the 2007 draft. The Pace (Fla.) High standout signed for $661,500 and established himself as one of San Diego's top talents by batting .316/.380/.430 in 233 games. Heading into this season, Cumberland ranked as the organization's No. 9 prospect and also as its best hitter for average and projected second baseman of the future.
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