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March 21, 2013

BP Unfiltered

Tommy Hanson, Shaun Marcum, and Causes for Concern

by Ben Lindbergh

Remember the time
When you told me not to worry
I’m worried now
Remember the time
When you told me not to worry
I’m worried now

—Sloan, “Worried Now

MLB.com, 3/20:

It turns out Tommy Hanson's early exit was nothing but a scare.

A big one, given his recent health issues and overall importance to a rather fragile Angels rotation. But perhaps an unnecessary one, considering how Hanson summed up his level of concern after tightness in his right triceps forced him to leave before the start of Wednesday's fourth inning.

"Zero," he said. "One-hundred percent, I'm fine."

Hanson won't require an MRI, plans to make his next turn and has zero doubt he'll be ready to go for the regular season.

"I felt fine," Hanson said after giving up two runs in three innings against the Indians. "I think they're just taking the cautious route."

Also MLB.com, also 3/20:

The closer the Mets edge toward Opening Day, the longer their injury report seems to grow.

The latest to sustain an injury is starter Shaun Marcum, who on Tuesday received a cortisone shot to combat an impingement in his right shoulder.

Manager Terry Collins downplayed the seriousness of the injury, calling it something Marcum experiences "every spring, pretty much."

Collins added that he expects the right-hander to make his final Grapefruit League start next week.

"He just wanted to get it cleaned up and get it done early so he could take a couple of extra days now," Collins said, "and he can go into his last start in the spring and extend himself a little bit."

Baseball Prospectus, 2/18:

Are you looking to avoid injury risk this year? Look for the guy who had a clean bill of health last year.

And no, just because you made it through last year without getting hurt, it doesn't reset the clock (although it does seem to ameliorate the problem).

Focusing for a moment on the data presented on disabled list time, a previous DL trip makes a pitcher about eight times more likely to land on the DL this season.

Once a pitcher is damaged, he's damaged goods.

***

Tommy Hanson missed the last two months of 2011 with a right shoulder “impingement”—the same ailment Marcum has now. He also spent time on the DL with a lower back strain in 2012.

Marcum missed two months with elbow tightness last season. Collins is right about one thing: shoulder issues in spring training are nothing new for the righty, though the ones he had in 2012 and 2011 went by different, slightly less disturbing names than "impingement": “inflammation” and "tightness," respectively. But it’s not really reassuring that this happens to Marcum pretty much every spring, because he he also suffers a more serious injury pretty much every summer.

If you drafted an injury-prone pitcher​ in your fantasy league—or, worse, spent millions of dollars or traded a promising young player to land the real deal—it's easy to talk yourself into dismissing injury updates like these. Hanson said he felt fine! Collins expects Marcum to make his next start! How bad could it be? But a competitive player will almost always say he feels fine, unless a bone is protruding out of his body (and sometimes even then). When a pitcher with a history of arm injuries complains of tightness, receives a cortisone shot, or makes an early exit, it's not "just a scare." "Just a scare" starts the second one of those pitchers puts on a uniform, why is which someone with Marcum's career stats couldn't land a longer, more lucrative contract.

Remember the time when the previously injured pitcher told us not to worry? I’m (even more) worried now.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

Related Content:  Pitchers,  Injuries,  Tommy Hanson,  Shaun Marcum

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