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Former Major Leaguer Hits the Links after Hip Replacement Surgery

For 14 years, Michael Laga of Northampton spent time playing minor league and major league baseball with the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Francisco Giants organizations. But the intensity of high-level sports took a toll, especially on Mike's hip.

Mike Laga playing golfFor 14 years, Michael Laga lived a life that countless American kids have dreamed of: the chance to play professional baseball. Laga spent time playing minor league and major league baseball with the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Francisco Giants organizations.  

“A lot of fun,” the Northampton resident says about his years playing professionally. “Not a bad way to make a living for a while. It can wear out some body parts, but would not trade it for anything.”  

As exciting as it was to be a professional athlete, the intensity of high-level sports eventually caught up with Laga later in life as he attempted to recreate and enjoy being outdoors.  

“I needed total hip replacement for wear and tear, and severe arthritis in left hip,” he says.  

Laga turned to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Lehman for his procedure, which is typically necessary when the cartilage that protects the hip wears out. Joint replacement surgery is performed to replace all or part of the joint with an artificial implant, and is well proven to relieve the pain of arthritis and can greatly improve functional status.  

“I had the surgery for quality of life,” Laga says. “To lose the constant pain from a failing hip. I feel that I am 95% back to normal.”  

Nationally Recognized Care

Laga is just one of many faces that reflect nationally recognized, award winning care at Baystate Medical Center. U.S. News & World Report has rated Baystate Medical Center as part of an elite group of 34 “high performing” hospitals in a new form of evaluation that rates hospitals on how well they perform.  

More than 1,000 total joint replacement (TJR) procedures are performed annually through the Baystate  Hip & Knee Replacement Program.  It also takes into account knee replacement procedures, bypass surgeries, COPD treatment, and congestive heart failure.

“It is important for patients, in consultation with their doctors, to be able to research a hospital and know the hospital has treated a sufficient number of patients like them,” says Ben Harder, chief of health analysis for U.S. News. “Our Best Hospitals for Common Care ratings give patients access to more information and help them make more-informed choices among the hospitals in their communities.”

Baystate is only one of three hospitals in New England to be rated as “high performing” in an analysis of 4,600 hospitals nationwide in the magazine’s new Best Hospitals for Common Care ratings.  

“This latest honor from U.S. News & World Report, in addition to already placing in its Best Hospitals report, is further recognition of the world-class care available to patients at Baystate Medical Center. It is truly an honor and a testament to our clinicians and staff who strive to deliver safe, high-quality care for our patients every day,” says Dr. Evan Benjamin, senior vice president for Quality and Population Health and Chief Quality Officer for Baystate Health.  

Laga is now back to his normal routine, including 50 rounds of golf in 2015 alone. “Great, no more pain and good range of motion,” he says.  “It’s great, just enough to remind me it is not my own hip and to be a little careful. Most of all, after I golf or exercise I am not in a lot of pain."