Player has invasive hip surgery on March 9th, is supposed to miss six to nine weeks. Player misses Spring Training and the first month of the season — does rehab work to get hip back into shape instead of baseball activities. Player does some baseball activities, but barely gets in a nine-inning practice game before returning 61 days after surgery. Player goes on to start every single game between May 8 and June 18, inclusive.
The obvious conclusion in this case is that Player needs a breather. In fact, Player probably could have used a breather before that. May 8 through June 18 is 42 days, a long time for a player who didn’t get a proper Spring Training and who basically went from the operating table to the infield with little transition time. During those 42 days, Player only got four full days off and two half days at DH. That’s probably not enough, given the circumstances.
The situation is pretty clear. Player should have gotten more rest, but did not. Player is going to take two days off, followed by an on-day, which is then followed by a team off-day. Sounds fine, right? It did to me, but apparently this was a big story in the newspapers and on TV. Player’s manager put him in the lineup against orders. Player’s manager wasn’t part of the decision to rest him. Player and manager had words. And that’s not to mention the questioning of Player himself.
Again, the situation is pretty cut and dry. A lot of noise permeated the sports pages, but in the end it all means little. Player was obviously fatigued, and for good reason. There was a bit of miscommunication, it appeared, on how to handle said fatigue. That happens. The situation was resolved. In fact, Player’s manager put the final stamp on it: “I’m hoping he’ll tell us which day he needs when he needs it. If not, I’ll just have to make him take a day.”
Should things have been handled differently? Probably. Player’s manager probably should have rested Player a bit more during the first month and a half of his recovery. Problem was, Player’s tiring came during a losing streak. Player’s manager wanted to field the best possible team to snap out of the streak. Player wanted to be in the lineup. It’s not an excuse; it’s just an explanation for what happened.
The whole situation, really, is easily explained. There should be no outrage, no questioning of motives. The team should have done something. They didn’t. They got to a point where they had to do something, so they took the proper measures. Now, if there’s a problem going forward maybe we can start to feel some outrage. For now, we can file this one under “mishandled” and hope the team learns from its mistake.