Monday, June 2, 2014
KNOWING WHEN TO PLAY & WHEN NOT TO PLAY
These past several weeks have seen a lot of drama around the Yankees and their ever-growing injury list. One of the more concerning stories has been around Mark Teixeira and his wrist. After hitting his stride in late April, hitting 9 home runs in about 3½ weeks, he suddenly cooled off. From May 18 to the 25th, he went 5 for 29 (a .172 average) with only one extra base hit. Then we got the news that we all dreaded – his surgically repaired wrist was bothering him.
After a couple of days, he consulted with his surgeon, Dr. Keith Raskin, who confirmed that his wrist had not suffered any structural damage, but needed rest. Meredith Marakovits, YES clubhouse report, tweeted out the following:
While the first half of that tweet may have sounded like good news – he needs no further surgery – I thought the second half was somewhat disturbing. The doctor is surprised that he has not gotten more days off. As if the expectation was, based on the surgery, that he should have been getting days off. Or perhaps that the wrist has not been bothering him sooner. Or bothering him more. No matter how you slice it, he has been working it too much. Now he is trying to get back to form, maybe too soon, and leaving games with pain and with inflammation in his wrist.
In Spring Training, Tex said that he expected to have a 150 game, 30 HR, 100 RBI season. At that time, I expressed concern about those aspirations, how he needed to concern himself with his health and durability . Apparently, this way of thinking is not part of the Yankee brain trust. While we all admire Tex’s determination, being ready to play every day despite how much it hurts, the Yankees need better judgment here. By the way, Tex is not the only person who needs their rest time managed.
We are in full swing of the final lap of Derek Jeter’s career. The fans are coming out to see him one last time, every game. I actually admired Joe Girardi’s courage to say “I wasn’t hired to put on a farewell tour” when he was questioned about sitting Jeter during a game against the Red Sox. "I have to manage him with a focus of winning games and keeping him healthy, not being a farewell tour” (read HERE). Bravo to you, Joe, for trying to manage Jeter well! Still, he has only sat Jeter 8 times this season. That comes out to about one game out of every six that Derek Jeter is not playing. He has only come in to a game as a pinch hitter once this season. When he has played, he has only DH’ed once. All the other games have been in the field. Surely, we can do better than that, before he suffers an injury in his final season.
My mother-in-law loves to tell me that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. She would be right in this case. The problem is that prevention does not come without a price. It is hard to give days off to players when your roster is as thin as the Yankees’ right now. The problem only gets worse as players come off the DL and back on the active roster. Whether you are talking about C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Carlos Beltran, Shawn Kelly, or any of the others, whenever they come back, they are not coming back at 100%.
At some point, you have to face the reality of the situation and give these guys rest. Pushing them because you do not have a good alternative is kicking the can down the road. Last year the Yankees fired strength and conditioning coach Dana Cavalea, blaming the team’s injuries on him. It is good that they recognized the problem, but they need to start applying the lessons they learned. The human body is not a machine that you can simply keep pushing and replace broken down parts with new ones from the shop. Recoveries take time and patience, and the Yankees need to start exercising those disciplines now.