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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bill Madden: Ooh, my arm! Yankees and Mets caught up in thick of injury epidemic in baseball

Woo-eee! Bill Madden hasn’t been this worked up since Richard Crooks’ Hollywood Walk of Fame Star went missing!


Such is the resounding cry again being heard throughout baseball as pitcher after pitcher comes walking off the mound grabbing his elbow and position player after position player suddenly comes up lame with a hamstring, groin, calf, wrist, oblique, lat or quad injury. It’s an epidemic, like all the strikeouts, that’s getting worse and worse in baseball.

After the first 12 days of the baseball season there had already been 124 players put on the disabled list for a total of 1,411 days lost to injury. This was right on pace with a year ago when 127 players had gone on the DL, with a loss of 1,349 games. And, with Tampa Bay Rays lefty Matt Moore and Pirates top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon joining the blown-out elbow brigade last week, that makes 14 pitchers alone so far this season who may be going under the knife for Tommy John surgery. It is getting to a point where maybe every ballpark in baseball should be equipped with both an MRI room and a surgeon on call. Thus, when a pitcher comes off the mound grabbing his elbow in pain, he can simply report directly to the MRI room and if the exam shows a tear in the ligament — as they almost always do now — he can then go right next door, where the surgeon is waiting to perform the Tommy John procedure. This way, pitchers can eliminate the obligatory trip to Dr. Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., and get the clock started immediately for their recovery. And since so many pitchers are now having Tommy John surgery in college and even high school, it would stand to reason those who do should have extra value in the draft, no?

... Or as every Yankee fan from the Bronx to Bogota could be heard screaming last week: “How in the hell does David Robertson — a pitcher for goodness’ sake! — strain his groin?”

“I can’t ever remember any pitchers when I played going on the disabled list with leg injuries, and that was before the designated hitter, when all the pitchers had to bat and run the bases every game,” said Ralph Branca, who won 88 games in the big leagues, mostly with the Dodgers, from 1944-54. “I can only surmise that was because we all ran. . . and ran. (Don) Newcombe and I were both big guys and before games on days we weren’t pitching we’d play pepper for a while and then run 8-10 laps from first base to center field and walk back. That’s what all the pitchers did, the reason being you needed to strengthen your legs for pitching off the mound. In spring training, we ran every day.”

Repoz Posted: April 13, 2014 at 08:28 AM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets, yankees

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   1. bobm Posted: April 13, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4685360)
Joel Sherman: Scheduling, strict PED testing may be factor in injuries

When it comes to the injury epidemic, in general, there also is no unanimity about why so many are going down so often. But there are two factors that work in tandem that make the most sense to me:

Scheduling has become more arduous at a time when bodies might not be recovering quicker from the use of illegal performance enhancers.

History of early season stats quoted in TFE:

But at the same point in 2010, there were just 104 DL stints for 1,078 days lost and the year before 92 for 1,019.

Full season data:

Last year, there were 521 DL stints in the majors covering 29,387 days lost. Again, the numbers had similarity to 2011-12. But in 2010, it was 459 DL stints for 23,579 days lost and in 2009 it was 478 for 26,173 lost. In 2008, the numbers were huge (532 DL stints/28,459 days lost), but it was an outlier because from 1998-2007 total DL stints ranged from 410 to 480.

Think of that this way: Last year, each of the 30 teams averaged 980 days lost compared to 786 in 2010. The difference of 194 days is roughly six players being lost for an additional month each. Ten years earlier, in 2003, teams averaged 748 days lost. The difference between that and last year is 232, or roughly eight players being lost for a month
   2. BDC Posted: April 13, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4685367)
It is just grueling on the body to do 162 games in 183 days moving consistently in different time zones

Which has only been the case in MLB for a little over 50 years now.

There may or may not especially be an "injury epidemic" at the moment, but I doubt that counting time on the disabled list is a good way to find out. There's quite a range of DL use that could be attributed just to more perspicuous roster management. There could well have been a lot more non-DL'd minor injuries in the past, etc.
   3. I am the Can Posted: April 13, 2014 at 02:08 PM (#4685439)
There are a lot of possible explanations for this. I would say the likeliest is improved medical technology combined with increased scrutiny on injuries across sports. Guys "playing hurt" used to be valued by media and fans.

I'd be interested to see the breakdown of where, geographically, these injuries happened. Playing in the north in April seems like the prince of bad ideas to me for all sorts of reasons, and this is one of them.
   4. Rough Carrigan Posted: April 13, 2014 at 04:47 PM (#4685557)
Madden acts like he's never heard of a pitcher having a groin injury. Has he forgotten Roger Clemens' years with the yankees?
   5. Rough Carrigan Posted: April 13, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4685560)
Ralph Branca: "We all just thought that Monty Stratton had come down with a bum shoulder."
   6. Walt Davis Posted: April 13, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4685573)
As #2 points out ... how much of this increase in DL time is due to ineffective/tired RPs without options landing on the DL for two weeks?

And certainly with larger pens and possibly with more frequent use of RPs, we'd probably expect an increase in overall injury rates -- i.e. pitchers get hurt more than hitters, so with 12-13 pitchers on the roster ... But then, 12-man pens have been with us for a while now so that isn't likely to explain much change over the last three years.
   7. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4685588)
There may or may not especially be an "injury epidemic" at the moment, but I doubt that counting time on the disabled list is a good way to find out. There's quite a range of DL use that could be attributed just to more perspicuous roster management. There could well have been a lot more non-DL'd minor injuries in the past, etc.

Right, and while this is not a super recent change, improvements in medicine mean that guys now have surgery and come back from injuries that in the past might have retirement.

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