Category Archives: Injuries

Yin and Yang of Injuries

Jesus Flores

Wilson Ramos

In my day job, if I were to get hit by a truck while scootering to the office, the other person on my team would likely get my “Lead” role by default. Good for him. Bad for me. I’ve been wearing more safety gear lately just in case no matter how hot it is.

In baseball, injuries both break and make careers in an odd yin and yang sort of way. No one wants to cheer an injury with the knowledge the only reason a player is “in the show” is because somebody else got hurt. The mere fact of it guiltily steals a little of the natural joy and elation brought by promotion.

Remember when Jesus Flores was a promising young everyday catcher? He was one of my favorite players and I was crushed when his shoulder injury sidelined him from play. And then sidelined him again. And again. While he underwent surgeries and rehab, another promising young catcher, Wilson Ramos, replaced him by necessity and largely lived up to the duties required of him. He became a beloved player too. As time went on without Flores in the starting role, it became clear Wilson had earned retention of that position. Good for Ramos, not so good for Flores, who became the default backup catcher. I still felt Flores deserved a starting position and while I’d hate to see him go, hoped maybe he’d be traded to a team who would use him in that role after he worked so hard to return.

Yet with the twist of a knee, now Ramos is out and Flores is in the every day role. The injury is crushing for Ramos. Will he return to the starting role next season? Or will the seesaw now stay tipped in Flores’ favor long-term now? Injuries are harbingers of tragedy and triumph, but triumph without elation.

With the rash of injuries so far this season, a groundswell of fans (including me) have been clamoring for Davey to play the kids over bench players on a regular basis. This isn’t to discount the regulars like Werth, but more in response to putting a young guy in as opposed to say, Xavier Nady. Welcome Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore to the show! While it’s exciting to get a chance to see the up and comers play, Werth’s broken wrist was disastrous. Yin. Yang. Then there was the one kid who came up to play backup catcher, but poor Sandy Leon ended up experiencing both the elation of promotion and devastation of injury on the same day. During his MLB debut, Leon sprained his ankle in a collision at the plate.

As Tyler Moore said during blogger day, being one of those kids who is up because of injuries, “It’s been fun but at the same time you hate it for those guys because they work so hard in the offseason and spring trianing. It gets into the depth we have. You hate to see that happen, but at the same time team just keeps going.”

Injuries have been a major part of the game forever, although the Nats seem particularly affected this year (and every other year, but really moreso this year). Yes, the beat goes on and the games much continue. It’s such a shame that the eagerness of seeing a prospect make his debut, not to mention said prospect’s own joy at promotion is tampered by the fact that someone got hurt to afford the opportunity.

Injury bug

Well, poop – I guess I at least caught Ryan Zimmerman’s last game before he went on the 15 day disabled list. Saturday night, Zimmerman re-injured an abdominal strain sliding into 2nd base that first bothered him during spring training. Huge bummer! Things seem a bit touch-and-go with new first baseman, Adam LaRoche as well, initially bothered by a slight tear in his throwing shoulder and now a “slightly” strained groin suffered yesterday, which made for an interesting defensive alignment in the last inning.

LaRoche expects to be ready to return to play tomorrow. Here’s hoping, because without calling someone up, the team is running really short on replacement players. Did you catch Pudge playing first base in the final inning of yesterday’s 11th inning win over the Mets! That was worth the price of admission right there (ok, free since I was watching on TV, but still)!

Also running short are effective bullpen arms not named Storen, Clippard, or Burnett. After hearing Rule 5 pick Brian Broderick would only be used in blowout (either way) games, I was stunned to see him called from the bullpen Saturday night. I surmised, and explained to my Mets fan friends sitting with me, that Riggleman was giving the core guys a rest since they had been used so much recently. And sure enough, that game got away. My sleep-deprived self still doesn’t want to rehash it!

I seem to recall Clippard losing effectiveness toward the end of last season due to excessive use, and am afraid of the same or worse this season. Same goes for the other guys in the bullpen named above. That will be an interesting area to keep an eye on over the next few weeks as the state of the bullpen as a whole becomes clearer with a larger sample size.

Speaking of Clippard, the mill-wheel armed dude, I keep holding my breath when he enters games in tight situations now. It’s not that I don’t trust his stuff — quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just that I know he can’t keep a 0.00 ERA going all season and wonder each time he comes out, “is this where some real numbers appear there?”

Here’s hoping the injury bug is done striking the Nationals and moves on to some other team (few seem to have been spared thus far into the season, however).

Strasburg Going For Tommy John – Bumpy 24 Hours

I’m going to preface this post and mention that my post about Dibble’s comments came from a passion for this team and a protection instinct over its players because… well just because. I felt he was prematurely wrong with his ‘be tough’ statements, and I don’t have any desire to hate on anyone. No matter how much he tries to backpedal and change the original context – which is apparently still the fault of the internet. But he’s not the story here.

A strange mix of excitement and irony swirled around Nationals Park over the roller coaster last 24 hours. Anticipation and eagerness surrounded the start to the day when Nationals introduced top draft pick Bryce Harper to fans and media in “Oppo Boppo” fashion before he heads off to begin his professional baseball career. A familiar rush of hope surged when right-handed starter Jordan Zimmermann made his first start on an MLB mound post Tommy John surgery, facing the Cardinals in place of Stephen Strasburg, on the 15-day DL awaiting results of an MRI. Both events tempered the fear of the unknown lurking in Nats fans’ hearts while the lead roller coaster car click-click-clacked up the steep hill. The cars crested and careened down as stomachs clenched and the latest punch was thrown as the ride surged into the first loop of today’s morning press conference — Stephen Strasburg will miss the remainder of this season and likely most of next season with ‘likely’ Tommy John surgery.

Oof. What a horrendous punch to the gut for Nats fans. Strasburg has intrigued both ardent and casual fans alike nationwide since before his June 8th MLB debut, filling stadiums across the country. He brought buzz. He brought intrigue. He brought passion. He brought 92 strikeouts and 100 MPH fastballs that made opposing batters look like little leaguers. In addition, he brought hope and a reason to watch and pay attention to the Nationals after coming off a 100+ loss season. He brought (positive) national media attention. MLB Network took notice of the team in the Nation’s capital. ESPN took notice. Even though this season is likely a wash, fans eagerly looked forward to next year’s trot out of the opening day gate. All that – crushed. Gone. In one pitch plus six days of nailbiting while waiting for MRI results.

The initial shock is extremely difficult to overcome. Cry. Drink (wait til you get home from work, though). Eat cheese fries (or whatever comfort food you prefer, that just happens to be mine). Take a bubble bath. Listen to Mozart. Then look for hope.

Read more on CSNwashington.com

Strasmas is over

Whoosh! That’s the remaining air rushing out of the Nats season after their shiny new toy that filled seats both at home and on the road went on the 15-day disabled list for the 2nd time in a month. Let’s face it – Strasburg is a mere mortal, not a superhero bestowed unnatural powers by the hopes and dreams of fans following this team. Indications on the field last night against the Cubs made it appear the team took the Stephen Strasburg news hard themselves in the 9-1 home series opener that made Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s abrupt retirement the previous day look inconsequential. Is all hope lost in NatsTown? Or is this a mere bump? Either way, after twelve starts, the last of which ended with him pulled from the mound after 4.1 innings following shaking his pitching arm in bewilderment, Strasmas is over. Some fresh air is on the way, however.

Read more on CSNwashington.com

MissChatter: On The DL

Over at CSN, I have to write a minimum of 500 words, which sends me into a panic since some of the funny bits would be hard to expand to 500 words. I’ve wanted to get on the awesome video of Kasten pie-ing Mike Rizzo in the face and donning the Silver Elvis wig, but what more needs to be said than the video? There’s a new catcher (my specialty!) in town with Wil Nieves on leave after the birth of his first child, a baby girl, yesterday. Congrats to Wil and Yormarie! We should see Wilson Ramos, acquired when Matt Capps was traded to the Twins, play for the first time today. Zimmerman was ejected for the first time in his career, eliciting gasps around NatsTown. But that took one sentence to write. So instead, I turned to my current trip to the DL.

Every season, the Nationals lose several players to the variously numbered days disabled lists and this year has been no exception. Alternatively, injured players will try to play through their pain and not let on something is bothering them, a practice that is admired in some circles for the “old school toughness” of it and despised in others for the harm a player not at 100% can do to their team. Also, while the team works as a group both contributing their parts to wins and losses, when one error occurs that can cost the team a win, other position players watch helplessly, yet still support their teammates. I have now experienced these phenomenon first hand. MissChatter is officially on the DL.

I’m typing this up with my left (glove) arm in a sling, elephant strength Ibuprofen in my system and a ziploc baggie of ice and water resting on my left shoulder — until it falls off (the baggie, not the shoulder). Read more on CSNwashington.com