An expert on biomechanics and a team source talk about their approaches to evaluating and managing pitcher workloads.
For today's article on impervious and not-so-impervious pitchers, I got my David Laurila on, speaking to Glenn Fleisig of the American Sports Medicine Institute—whose name is almost always followed by the phrase, "the world's foremost authority on biomechanics"—and to a scouting executive from a major-league club (affectionately and frequently referred to in the article as "the executive"). Both had a lot to say, and not everything they said fit into the article. One of the things I failed to fit in was their extended perspectives on pitcher workloads and the efficacy of innings limits, so I'm rectifying that by posting both takes here. Dr. Fleisig comes first, followed by the team official.
Will delivers what you need to know on a setback for Travis Hafner, Paul Lo Duca's grudging move to the DL, and the strange case of Aramis Ramirez.
I try to read and respond to all the email I get, but due to what's going on here, I was out of touch with what was really going on. If you sent me an email asking for an immediate answer, you probably got a quick response at best, telling you that I was out of touch. If you sent in a bigger email, with an idea or concept, I probably asked you to re-send at a later date. I know you understand. Even better, I've been able to stay in touch (who knew that hospitals had wi-fi?) with several sources, who were both making sure I had the info I needed for the column, as well as being both good people and friends. It's times like these where I realize just how much I need both--the sources and the readers, so thank you to both.
With the playoffs starting tonight, Will has news on who'll play through pain, who may miss time, and which training staffs will have to work hardest to keep the best team on the field.
It's all numbers, pieces of a puzzle, and I don't have the luxury of having a box top to compare my version of the story to. So, transparency is my cause. I try to get as many things out there as possible, facts when possible, guesses and rumors when that's all we have. As we get distance, we also see patterns. We begin to get meaningful sample sizes. Someday, we'll have better information and even more transparency; for now, we'll just look at the numbers and find what we can. The one thing we know is that injuries can be the key to winning or losing, to ending up in the playoffs or watching them like me. Even now that we're down to eight teams, injuries become even more magnified, as does fatigue. I look at baseball a little differently, but what's neat is that more people, inside and outside baseball, are starting to see things the same way. Things are changing, dear readers, if slowly.
As more players hire their own medical help, conficts arise between the player's staff and the team's own physicians.
Most of the raised eyebrows have to do with "personal trainers"--Bob Anejo and Greg Anderson come to mind--who need to be differentiated from athletic trainers. Unlicensed and of varying philosophies, these men often have dubious credentials and programs. Certainly, there are some programs, such as Mark Verstegen's Athletes Performance that are clearly scientific and well-considered, but even these have their detractors given their poster boy, Nomar Garciaparra, has been injury prone. Mike Berardino points the finger at one of these as part of the problem for Juan Pierre. There were hints that Scott Boras was going to set up his own facility last season. The trend will continue as the super-agencies become teams unto themselves, both positively and negatively.
Dr. Tim Kremchek's Ignition facility aims to stop pitching injuries before they start.
Beacon Orthopaedic Clinic
Last year, Will documented his visit to Beacon and his introduction to Dr. Tim Kremchek, the team doctor for the Cincinnati Reds and now for the Washington Nationals. Beacon's ornate entryway invited us into a rotunda that almost felt like a Cooperstown display. Large statues constructed from broken bats, cases full of patient-signed balls, bats, helmets, spikes and jerseys, and more plasma TVs than Circuit City seemed to console the sad-looking teens and college athletes waiting around with thick slings and braces bundled around their arms.
Last year, I was given the privilege of writing a story that hadn't been written. It's a story about a hidden treasure and one that opened my eyes to yet another hidden game in baseball. While "original" UTK subscribers will remember this story, I think it's important enough to bring to a BP audience. I'm also going to be speaking with American Specialty in the near future, bringing you more insight from the true masters of injury analysis. I hope you enjoy. --Will
Outside of baseball, the Redbook is unknown. Even inside baseball, many front office personnel I spoke to were unaware of its existence. Even I had no knowledge of the Redbook until a recent conversation with a former baseball athletic trainer. He mentioned the book in passing and I had to bring him back to it. 'There's a book with all the info?' I asked. After telling me about it, I went on a quest to find the book. A bit of searching later, I found that the publisher was in fact MLB's insurance consultant, a company called American Specialty Companies Inc.