Adam Greenberg's long and winding journey between his two major league at-bats -- the first with the Chicago Cubs in 2005 and the last with the Miami Marlins in 2012 -- has been well chronicled.
What many people may not know, however, is that in fighting his way back to the big leagues, Greenberg relied heavily on the ancient Chinese remedy lu rong -- deer antler velvet. The medication is made by harvesting and grinding up antlers from young deer.
Greenberg first began using the deer antler velvet pill after it was recommended to him by a chiropractor. According to a book excerpt published on Deadspin, deer antler velvet worked wonders for Greenberg:
[Greenberg] was blown away by the pill's anti-inflammatory effects: his joints and muscles felt better, he recovered faster from workouts, he had more energy and stamina.
While a reasonable case could be made that the Marlins were giving Greenberg a gift -- a convoluted but good-hearted make-up gesture -- with the single at-bat, that shouldn't diminish from the effort he put into the attempt of coming back. After the beaning in 2005 left him battling vertigo, vision problems and post-concussion syndrome, Greenberg spent years with various teams in the minors.
He wasn't blowing anyone away as can't-miss prospect but stayed relevant long enough that his perseverance led to a grassroots campaign, lobbying to get him back to the majors even for one at-bat. And deer antler was what he credited for helping his career stay afloat.
Greenberg even helped start a company, LuRong Living, which sells the pill.
The spray form of deer antler velvet made headlines last year when the NFL and MLB issued a warning about a specific brand of deer antler spray. Scientists discovered that the velvet from immature deer antlers contains IGF-1, which according to SI.com, is banned by Major League Baseball for its "muscle-building and fat-cutting effects."
IGF-1 cannot be detected in urine tests, but it could produce positive tests for the banned steroid methyltestosterone.
The pill that Greenberg took, however, appears to be OK. On LuRong's website, it says the pill does not alter hormone levels and it is safe for professional athletes because it "does not contain any synthesized banned substances like some imitation velvet antler products like extracts, sprays, or drops."
Last year former Saints fullback Heath Evans revealed to ThePostGame that he used a product called The Ultimate Spray that is touted by its maker as containing the banned substance IGF-1.