Finding a way to manage injuries

Yanks pick up much-needed win in Miami
Ask Carmen Angelini a question

Baseball players are seemingly a stubborn lot. They like to play, and most of them outside of Carl Pavano will play through just about anything. Sore ankles, sore knees, sore arms, sore backs. If it ain’t broken, pencil ’em in.

That’s great for a team’s character. After all, no one wants to see a bunch of multi-millionaires begging out of baseball games because they stubbed a toe or just flat-out don’t feel like playing. We’ll leave to the Stephon Marburys of the world. Meanwhile, as players recover from injuries — as they bring their bodies back from surgery and from rehab stints — they tend to push themselves hard. They want to be on the field; they want to be playing the games they love.

When Alex Rodriguez came off the DL in May, the Yankees had a plan. They would play A-Rod five or six days a week and rest him the other day. Maybe he would DH for some games; maybe he would get a full nine innings off, coming up only if the situation warranted pinch hitting with a player who owns 562 career home runs.

Somewhere along the line though the Yankees strayed from that plan. A-Rod hit a home run in his first at-bat, announcing his return in resounding fashion. He then blasted his wall through a stellar May before hitting a wall in June. Through it all, the Yankees never really rested Alex Rodriguez. Prior to last night, Alex Rodriguez started 38 straight Yankee games. He played third 36 times and DHed twice. The Yankees went 24-14.

In a way, the Yankees couldn’t bench A-Rod. Despite their recent slide, the team with A-Rod seemed as though they could maintain that 102-win pace over more than just 38 games. A-Rod and his surgically repaired labrum could not. Over his last 21 games, Alex has hit just .176/.337/.297 with two home runs and three doubles. In a key moment on Wednesday night, in fact, Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi didn’t feel comfortable sending Rodriguez in what I thought was an obvious steal situation.

Yesterday, citing fatigue, the Yankees finally mercifully rested a man they need to keep healthy for the better part of the next 8.5 seasons. While I take issue with Mark Feinsand’s charge that the Yanks “yanked” A-Rod from the lineup as though he was being punished, the quotes the Daily News scribe heard are telling.

“We just feel that he’s fatigued and that he could use a little blow,” Girardi said to Feinsand. “We talked about giving him one day off and we were thinking about doing it tomorrow, but after we slept on it, talked about it and discussed it, we’re going to give him two days off.”

“Overall, any time you’re tired, it may affect your game. But that’s definitely not an excuse,” A-Rod added. “The most important thing in this process of having surgery is that I have to maintain good communication and be very honest with Joe so we can have a plan in place. It’s a long season.”

I don’t know what goes on behind the closed doors of the Yankee clubhouse and training room, but to me, these days off were long overdue. In early March, A-Rod underwent a pretty major surgical procedure. Two months later, he was playing nine-inning games in the field everyday for nearly seven weeks. That makes me raise an eyebrow.

Earlier this week, Brian Cashman expressed his displeasure with his players’ unwillingness to come forward with injury concerns. Most notable has been Damaso Marte‘s extended absence. He may even need to undergo an exploratory procedure just to find out what the main problem is. Yet, this is a path that runs both ways. The Yankees should make sure they’re doing all they can to keep their players who aren’t 100 percent functioning well. No more fatigue-related benchings.

Yanks pick up much-needed win in Miami
Ask Carmen Angelini a question
  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    On the bright side, the Yankees have two Mondays in a row off to rest players before a long stretch before the ASB.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I read (or heard on YES, I can’t remember) that Arod had asked for the day off and Girardi put him in the lineup and they called Cashman and he wound up with 2 days off. Is that not true?

    What does this sentence mean: Brian Cashman expressed his displeasure with his players’ willingness to come forward with injury concerns. Does that mean talk to the press or do they think that Marte isn’t really injured? I’m a little confused.

    • zs190

      I think it means they think Marte was injured long before he actually got shelved but didn’t tell the team about it. He was struggling badly earlier and I think the front office thinks he was trying to play through his injury and that’s what they don’t want. This applies to Bruney too. Like Ben said, The Idle aside, guys are competitors and they want to play even when they are a little bit hurt, sometimes that’s just not in the best interest of themselves or the team.

    • thebusiness

      100% true. Girardi still put him in the lineup and Cashman had to put Joe in his place.

    • JP

      Ben–did you mean Cashman expressed is displeasure at players unwillingness to come forward with injury issues? Your statement sounds like a typo. I’d think a GM would want to know about potential injury issues, not have the players hide them.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        Yup. Corrected now.

        • LiveFromNewYork

          Thanks.

  • crawdaddy

    This is where I miss Torre because I think he would have rest him despite Arod pleading to be in the lineup everyday.

    • Tom Zig

      That probably comes with experience. Girardi is only in his 3rd year as a major league manager. Torre has been managing for like 20+ years.

    • BklynJt

      Yeah, right after batting him 8th in the lineup

  • GG

    He’s tired and could use a little blow? What exactly does that mean?? They are in Miami

    • Mike HC

      A-Rod is a different type of guy. You have to give him a bit of the superstar treatment. If he thinks he needs a rest, you should probably rest him. I’m not even sure if he did ask for a rest, but if he did, he probably needed it for whatever reason.

      Of course, in this day and age, and considering it is A-Rod, the cynical side of me says that he is back home with all of his connections and he needs some time to “recharge” the batteries.

      Either way, if he says he wants a rest, we should give him one.

      • Joe R

        Wha? He’s talkin about how it says in the post that Girardi said he needs blow, aka cocaine.

        • Mike HC

          ha … yea, I see that now. I guess my mind was more on the fact he conveniently has two days off in his home town. But you are right; I should have been able to pick up on the cocaine innuendo. No excuses.

    • Joe R

      That’s funny. Saw that as well. While I’m sure some blow would give him an energy boost I don’t think MLB would condone that.

    • Jeremy

      When Kay said that ARod got 2 days off because he “needed a blow,” my wife and I turned to look at each other and exchanged a What the Fuck? Moment. Has anyone heard that expression before?

      • JP

        Yes. Common expression. Used in sports, maybe like basketball, where you play a long time and are out of breath. Hence, a rest…a “blow.”

  • Tom Zig

    A-rod manned up and admitted he wasn’t 100%. I’d rather him sit out for a few days than have him really hurt himself.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      Bingo.

  • Mike HC

    I really enjoyed that article. You had me laughing a couple of times with the Pavano and Marbury references.

    I agree with you that this whole A-Rod “fatigue” thing has been a bit blown out of proportion. Your article really hit the nail on the head.

  • misterd

    I am also curious why Cashman had to be called before he had been removed from the lineup? Why did Joe G have him in there? Was ARod unclear in his request (ie – did he ask for time off soon, or for the next day)? Did Girardi think he still wanted to play Friday because it was ARod’s homecoming game and he had purchased a bunch of tickets for family and friends? Did Joe not take the request seriously, or did Joe lack the authority to sit ARod without Cashman’s ok? And who called Cashman? Joe or ARod?

    • whozat

      Maybe it’s because Joe G kinda wanted to hold out til Ransom was back in a few days because he just doesn’t trust Berroa. So then he called Cash to talk about that, verify when that move is going to happen, and decided that yeah…it’s best to just go ahead and give him the days now.

  • Mike HC

    I think you just set a record for most questions in a RAB post without ever using another punctuation mark, whether they were grammatically correct not. Congrats.

    • Mike HC

      meant to reply to misterd

    • http://pinstripealley.com Edwantsacracker

      Fail.

  • Jeremy

    It’s pretty stunning to me that Cashman needed to be brought into a discussion of whether to give ARod 2 days off. ARod is called many things but slacker and quitter are not among them. If he wants 2 days off he should get 2 days off.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Pena can play 3B, so I’m confused why Arod hadn’t had more halfdays. Also seems like these NL games are great PH opps for him, which could be 7 or 8 innings off or maybe just one PA in the game. Do really small appearances help or is it an all or nothing deal?

  • Lanny

    It’s pretty obvious that Girardi was managing for his job and thought his best lineup had A-Rod hitting 4th. Consequences be damned.

    • JP

      Nah. Well, yes, I’m sure he wants the best lineup in there, but I don’t think Girardi is managing out of desperation or anything now. Yes, if they don’t make the playoffs this season, he’s toast, but he wouldn’t be stupid enough to risk injuring his best player for a few games in the early summer.

      Most likely, ARod just tells everyone he’s fine, and who’s gonna tell him he has to sit? ARod played his way out of the lineup…with the slump suggesting maybe he wasn’t quite up to par.

    • V

      Wow, a Lanny sighting, and the Yankees haven’t even lost yet!

    • LiveFromNewYork

      And who the hell is going to manage the Yankees if not Girardi? And why the hell does a manager with a winning record have to manage for his job?

      I see you get a weekend pass from the institution. But they still shouldn’t let you play with computers.

  • JP

    Any orthopedic surgeons lurking?

    My impression was that ARod had a limited surgery…maybe trimming the labrum or something else minimal. The definitive repair procedure, which requires a longer rehab, is scheduled for this winter.

    I wonder if it isn’t fatigue that’s got him, but just the fact that the hip isn’t really repaired, and is giving him problems.

    Maybe I’m just arguing semantics…but my point is if his hip is still having mechanical issues, if that labrum is causing him pain or restricting his movement, whatever, the team has to be very careful with him this season. If he does serious damage to his hip and is lost for the season, the Yankees will have serious problems making the playoffs.

  • DCR

    Not trying to be a Debbie Downer but I think that A-Rod is eventually going to be seeing a lot of DH starts this season. I think his hip is giving him trouble. Its part of the reason I really want the Yankees to go after DeRosa.

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

      Hasn’t pena proven he can be a serviceable 5th or 6th?

      If were going to spend assets, I’d rather see a big name OF on a multi year deal.

      • JP

        If we’re talking more than 20 or so games at third, as a backup, I think DCR would say we can’t do with Pena’s weak hitting.

        As much as I like Pena, I tend to agree.

        DeRosa might be a good idea because I think he plays third decently and hits, and probably wouldn’t require a huge deal.

        But I doubt the Yankees will go for him. Well…I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the financial state of the team – with the huge new stadium, but bad economy – is going to slow the pace of player acquisitions.

        • dkidd

          for what it’s worth, derosa was scratched from the game today with a hip injury

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

            I know were stat overloaded already, but Pena seems to be a better value than ‘rosa. I see the argument, but to me pursuing another player brings this years pen and next years OF into the discussion.
            Can we clone NICK SWISHER and teach him to play third?

  • dan

    It’s odd, if you hide an injury and try to play through it only to be further injured and wind up on the DL the front office, media, and fans will chastise you unmercifully. But if you’re Derek Jeter and consistently play through injuries, never sit for more than a day, and refuse to discuss any injuries you’re a gritty, selfless, grinder. Heck, they’ll call you captain.

    We heap gobs of praise on Jeter for doing the same stuff. You’re dead right though, it’s pretty funny how A-Rod playing everyday a few months after an invasive surgical procedure can slip through the cracks like that. There’s 25 guys on that team. Sometimes you just have to use them despite the protests of the 33 and older multi-millionaire club.

    I’m starting to come around on the concept of never having a set DH again. It’s the perfect position to keep your club flexible and rotate defensive position players into the game while keeping that same level of pop in your lineup. Let’s be honest. At this point, Matsui is little more than a left-handed PH. It’s ridiculous to waste 4+ AB’s on him a game especially considering how much he has become a station to station runner. Each day I DH a different player from the likes of Damon, Matsui, Jeter, A-Rod, and Posada. Late inning pinch runners or pure subs like Gardner and Pena help produce runs and improve my overall D.

    Look at the Red Sox. Ortiz is still struggling to regain any sort of form and they’ve got a whole other season to watch him flounder after this one. Why waste a spot that requires a solid bat on just one person?

  • Craig

    Fire Girardi.

  • AsianShuutoHeat

    It’s not the first time…
    The Yankees have a fine organization and one that is built with more money than any other, but yet they have these half ass sports conditioning experts that can’t seem to figure out left from right at times.

    I remember last season how I cringed at how many ham string related injuries there were in the team….

    • YankeeScribe

      Should they rehire McNamee?

      • AsianShuutoHeat

        hahaha, hey if he can keep the hammies at bay :P

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