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Playing Hurt

On Monday night, Eddie Rosario re-aggravated a quad injury while chasing down a ball in the outfield. Add him to the growing list of battered Twins players who will (or probably should) end their seasons sidelined by physical ailments.

Insult to injury, eh?
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA Today
Last week, La Velle E. Neal III reported that the Twins have hired a biomechanics expert with a Ph.D. in motor behavior, naming him "motion performance coach."

"[Martin] Verhoeven will study the mechanics of Twins hitters and pitchers and look for ways to make them more efficient," writes Neal. "While seeking optimal performance from their players, the Twins also hope to detect warning signs in their movements that could help them avoid injuries down the road."

Count this as another forward-thinking, innovative move from the front office to improve long-term player health outcomes. As Twins fans are painfully aware, injuries can derail not only a season, but a career.

And the most frustrating thing about them is how utterly powerless and defenseless we can feel against their spontaneous will. For the most part.

No, the Twins couldn't have done much to prevent Mitch Garver from taking a foul ball to the mask on September 12th, sustaining a concussion that scarily continues to affect him. They really couldn't have stopped Miguel Sano from banging up his knee on a slide into second on September 4th.

Buuuut.

Could they maybe have avoided Rosario collapsing onto the field Monday night, having worsened a quad issue that was still known to be hampering him? And might Byron Buxton's season have gone a little more smoothly if he hadn't tried to play through a broken toe and then, later, an ailing wrist?

I bring these examples up not to condemn the Twins, but to make a point about the inexact science of sports medicine. Minnesota's training and medical staffs have almost entirely turned over since the days of Joe Mauer's infamous "bilateral leg weakness" diagnosis, yet the familiar barbs from certain corners keep on.

Here's the thing: players wanna play. And any big-leaguer will tell you that by the latter stages of the season, there's no such thing as 100%. It's hard to tell Rosario or Buxton or Sano they need to sit when they fully insist they're ready to rock, and the medical reports don't raise blatant red flags.

But it's up to the coaches and front office to see the bigger picture and make smart choices. In a completely lost season, one does wonder about the wisdom of putting Rosario in the outfield even while acknowledging he's dinged up.

One also wonders about the real upside in acquiescing to Sano's pleas to return to the lineup for a dozen meaningless games, two weeks after being carted off the field. That left leg cost him virtually an entire offseason of conditioning, and arguably torpedoed his 2018 campaign. Why mess with it?

The Twins are, demonstrably, striving to become more sophisticated and effective in their management of player health. This season has tested them to the extreme on that front. Hopefully it'll end up being a productive learning experience.

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35 Comments

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Channing1964
Sep 18 2018 04:30 AM
well i will admit that the medical staff has been a topic of concern over the years. To give the new front office any credit for discovering a known issue at this disastrous juncture is absurd. I didn't see anyone being shut down for nagging toll of the season injuries last year. For anyone to actually see any positive from this is kind of ridiculous. These guys dont wanna play any more. This is what happens when you tank a season before it's time. The guys you have quit and you never will get an accurate read on the new guys because the whole clubhouse is FUBARed. Derek that means you will never get a good evaluation since somewhere between July 27, and now. Prolly it wont tell you anything in fangraphs about that. To gut a team means just that. Go home until spring training like you made us do. I for one hope you aren't joining us for 2019.
    • gunnarthor, notoriousgod71 and mikelink45 like this
Please correct me if I am mistaken on this, but to the best of my recollection the Twins have not had anyone at any level require Tommy John surgery this season? Is this due to something that the training people are doing, or just dumb luck? Either way I’ll take it. Hopefully they are on to something though.
    • birdwatcher, Oldgoat_MN, Danchat and 1 other like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Sep 18 2018 06:21 AM

 

Please correct me if I am mistaken on this, but to the best of my recollection the Twins have not had anyone at any level require Tommy John surgery this season? Is this due to something that the training people are doing, or just dumb luck? Either way I’ll take it. Hopefully they are on to something though.

I saw an interesting exercise at Spring training last year and again at Elizabethton last month. There were a half dozen plastic tubes, about 4 feet long withwhat looked like tennis balls on each end. They were "homemade" with tape on the ends.There was some weight in the poles (maybe sand) so that the pole would"bounce up and down" while being held in the middle and the arm being moved up and down. I was told it was a new exercise. Does anyone know what this is? How about our Florida Chiropracter, Bob Sacamento?

    • Minny505 likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Sep 18 2018 06:25 AM

I don't beleive Bob lives in FL anymore.

 

That's unfortunate.

Any advance in the medical area is a good advance.I hope he is looking at stretching, weights, general exercise.Although sometimes I think the injuries come from long stretches of inactivity - standing around in the field, sitting on the bench through long innings.I think some small on the field stretching to start each inning might pay dividends.The TJ surgery is a tough one.I might be having it in the next year and I do not pitch, I cannot throw overhand now.It just comes from wear and tear and pitchers put too much wear and tear on a system that did not evolve to handle that extreme motion over and over.Good luck - I do hope that someone comes up with a way to reduce the surgery, but pitching by its own definition is going to max out the shoulder and elbow. 

    • Minny505 likes this
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Original Whizzinator
Sep 18 2018 06:48 AM

Any advance in the medical area is a good advance.I hope he is looking at stretching, weights, general exercise.Although sometimes I think the injuries come from long stretches of inactivity - standing around in the field, sitting on the bench through long innings.I think some small on the field stretching to start each inning might pay dividends.The TJ surgery is a tough one.I might be having it in the next year and I do not pitch, I cannot throw overhand now.It just comes from wear and tear and pitchers put too much wear and tear on a system that did not evolve to handle that extreme motion over and over.Good luck - I do hope that someone comes up with a way to reduce the surgery, but pitching by its own definition is going to max out the shoulder and elbow.

I think is important to add that radar guns may have cause a damaging fixation on pitch velocity resulting in the rise of this injury.
    • gunnarthor, pbrezeasap, PDX Twin and 2 others like this

 

I think is important to add that radar guns may have cause a damaging fixation on pitch velocity resulting in the rise of this injury.

I won't disagree with that.

 

It's a near constant struggle with my son, who despite being only 14 is throwing in the mid 70's consistently from the bump and has a really strong arm from the outfield. Despite this, he and his friends that he plays with, all declare how inadequate and "weak" their velocity is at times. I and his coaches have to constantly tell him it's not always about velocity. Location and movement are actually more important than just all out speed.

 

So yes, I fully concur that fans and players have become to fixated on all out max effort on every pitch, to the detriment of the player's bodies.

    • pbrezeasap, snepp and Minny505 like this

Buxton's handling early in the season and Rosario's injury last night are pretty jarring. Those are two pretty important guys. I have no idea what the answer is - obviously, the guys want to play and might say "I'm good enough" and the manager believes them. But when the injury is obviously affecting their performance, like Buxton's foot, I think we can pass blame from the player to Molitor or up. 

    • Mike Sixel, Riverbrian and Doctor Wu like this
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Tom Froemming
Sep 18 2018 11:53 AM

 

These guys dont wanna play any more. This is what happens when you tank a season before it's time.

What?

 

If anything the problem has been the guys have pushed themselves back to the field too quickly.

 

Did you see Rosario's injury? That was a guy out there trying to make a play. Did you see Garver's concussion? He even (stupidly) stayed in the game to finish out that inning.

 

Buxton was ready to play if the Twins needed him after the minor league season ended. Sano, when asked on Sept.10 whether or not he'd be back on the field this season: "Yeah, a hundred percent. I want to finish strong. I've had a struggling year. I want to finish strong." 

 

These guys want to play, that's not the issue.

    • Brock Beauchamp, Nick Nelson, glunn and 7 others like this
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mngopherguy
Sep 18 2018 05:22 PM

 

well i will admit that the medical staff has been a topic of concern over the years. To give the new front office any credit for discovering a known issue at this disastrous juncture is absurd. I didn't see anyone being shut down for nagging toll of the season injuries last year. For anyone to actually see any positive from this is kind of ridiculous. These guys dont wanna play any more. This is what happens when you tank a season before it's time. The guys you have quit and you never will get an accurate read on the new guys because the whole clubhouse is FUBARed. Derek that means you will never get a good evaluation since somewhere between July 27, and now. Prolly it wont tell you anything in fangraphs about that. To gut a team means just that. Go home until spring training like you made us do. I for one hope you aren't joining us for 2019.

 

They all came back from injury, so how is it that they no longer want to play?Why would Buxton be upset about now being up? Why did Sano come back?Why did Rosario come back and clearly get reinjured?Or does he deserve an academy award?  

 

With all due respect, it sounds to me like your angry and using the injuries to fit your narrative.You are essentially questioning their heart, and I hope you have something to back it up with.The fact as I see it is they are all trying to play and are either not healthy to begin with, or have gotten reinjured.  

 

What?
 
If anything the problem has been the guys have pushed themselves back to the field too quickly.
 
Did you see Rosario's injury? That was a guy out there trying to make a play. Did you see Garver's concussion? He even (stupidly) stayed in the game to finish out that inning.
 
Buxton was ready to play if the Twins needed him after the minor league season ended. Sano, when asked on Sept.10 whether or not he'd be back on the field this season: "Yeah, a hundred percent. I want to finish strong. I've had a struggling year. I want to finish strong." 
 
These guys want to play, that's not the issue.


Well said!

Professional or amateur, high dollar or not, these guys are competitors and love to play the game. There is a huge financial, business side to this game, and other sports as well. But if a player truly doesn't love and want to play, they don't make it, or don't make it for long. It takes a passion to develop your skills, game and body to reach to top levels. If you don't love it, you won't make it, or last long when you do.
    • mngopherguy likes this
Read an interesting article posted on MLB At Bat, (probably posted on the Twins official page as well I'm sure), about Sano wanting to finjsh thjs season strong after such a disappointing year, to really work this off season on his weight and conditioning for 2019. He speaks about knowing what he is capable of, wanting to play 3B his entire career, and wanting to get to an ideal weight of about 245. This brought out a numerous comment from Molitor as to whether he was speaking English or Spanish when he said that. Maybe it's lip service. But it sure sounds refreshing, and seems to go along with the reports we read about his attitude during his re-set time in the minors thjs year.
    • Nine of twelve likes this

My anger level on this subject is quite high at the moment. 

 

I Just recently read an article quoting Brian Dozier that he has been playing hurt since April and that has impacted his performance this year. 

 

https://www.1500espn...ry-since-april/

 

“It’s been a struggle,” Dozier said. “I’ve had a knee issue since the beginning of the year.”

 

Dozier’s injury, according to the Times, dates to April when he suffered a bone bruise on his right knee. Structural damage was ruled out after an MRI but the soreness remained and Dozier told the paper that the inability to swing freely has compromised his swing. “If one side of your leg is not working, find a way to use your other side,” he said. “That’s just my mentality.”

 

Byron Buxton has the same story to tell:

 

http://www.1500espn....g-start-season/

 

“You see a good pitch to hit but you can’t put the right amount of pressure on [the foot] to swing at the ball the right way. That was the more frustrating part. It limited me from doing what I wanted to do.”

 

Logan Morrison had a hip impingement all season long that he was battling through and terrible numbers to go along with it. 

 

Many feel it is admirable to play hurt and tough it out like we all did back in the old days. And it is admirable... as long as you produce while toughing it out.

 

Does anybody want your surgeon toughing it out with a broken hand? "Sorry about that, you'll have to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of your life because I accidentally removed a part of your colon taking out your appendix. It's OK though... I had a broken hand and I come to play every day so let me soak up all your admiration for my toughness". 

 

If they are using injury as an excuse for their production this season. Each player, the manager and the front office can all bite me. :)

 

They ruined my summer. 

 

I'm all for the hiring of a biomechanics expert in an effort to detect warning signs and slow injuries that happen. I hope it works... but the front office better prepare for the possibility that it doesn't work as quickly as they like and do something about it the old fashion way at the same time. Spend this off-season acquiring more MLB ready depth. 

 

I want unequivocally... 25 players who can play on the 25 man roster... 25 players who will compete with each other for playing time and provide decent options when other players are injured and I want at least 10 more players on the 40 man roster.

 

I don't ever want to hear a player in a Twins uniform (who starts over 90% of the time) state that the reason he had a .600 OPS was because he had pain somewhere, ever again. 

    • glunn likes this
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yarnivek1972
Sep 18 2018 08:33 PM
IMO, Dozier and Morrison saying they were playing “hurt” is them trying to put a spin on poor performance to attempt to pull the wool over someone’s eyes when it comes time to sign their next contract. I suspect it won’t work. Morrison will likely have to settle for a minor league deal and Dozier will be lucky to get one plus an option year. Both are one position players, and one dimensional. They hit home homeruns. Neither is particularly good at the one position they do play. Dozier’s days as a base stealer are pretty much over. One dimensional and they didn’t do that one dimension particularly well this year. If the Dodgers QO him, he would be wise to take it IMO.
    • ken likes this

 

IMO, Dozier and Morrison saying they were playing “hurt” is them trying to put a spin on poor performance to attempt to pull the wool over someone’s eyes when it comes time to sign their next contract. I suspect it won’t work. Morrison will likely have to settle for a minor league deal and Dozier will be lucky to get one plus an option year. Both are one position players, and one dimensional. They hit home homeruns. Neither is particularly good at the one position they do play. Dozier’s days as a base stealer are pretty much over. One dimensional and they didn’t do that one dimension particularly well this year. If the Dodgers QO him, he would be wise to take it IMO.

 

It's possible but, it's going to cost them anyway. 

 

If we take them at their word... the total cost of it staggering. 

 

Buxton lost a year of service time

Morrison will be signing a minor league contract next year. 

Dozier... who knows but he is currently only facing left-handers for the Dodgers and his next contract is going to be nowhere near what he would have got last season. 

 

The Final Cost to the players are and will be huge... and it ruined my summer.:)  

    • glunn likes this
“Playing hurt” is always a tough call. First off, few players are 100 percent physically during much of an MLB season. So most everyone plays at some level below 100 percent at points during a season.

Then, It’s often really hard to know when someone is hurt, or just sore from the grind. If hurt, how hurt? Will they make it worse by playing?

You might decide that 90 percent of a given player is better than 100 percent of his replacement. You might need that replacement player at another position anyway, because he’s subbing for someone in worse shape, so the guy at 90 percent HAS to play.

It’s not as simple as “Don’t play Dozier with a sore knee.” Obviously there’s a point where you should DL him, but often these situations aren’t as black and white as we like to imagine them. Players have to play, or they’re worthless. And replacements don’t grow on trees, nor are they usually good as the player they are replacing.
    • ashburyjohn, glunn, Twins33 and 4 others like this

 

“Playing hurt” is always a tough call. First off, few players are 100 percent physically during much of an MLB season. So most everyone plays at some level below 100 percent at points during a season.

Then, It’s often really hard to know when someone is hurt, or just sore from the grind. If hurt, how hurt? Will they make it worse by playing?

You might decide that 90 percent of a given player is better than 100 percent of his replacement. You might need that replacement player at another position anyway, because he’s subbing for someone in worse shape, so the guy at 90 percent HAS to play.

It’s not as simple as “Don’t play Dozier with a sore knee.” Obviously there’s a point where you should DL him, but often these situations aren’t as black and white as we like to imagine them. Players have to play, or they’re worthless. And replacements don’t grow on trees, nor are they usually good as the player they are replacing.

 

Agreed... But... When the numbers are real bad? The decision can't be difficult anymore... it just can't. 

    • USAFChief and glunn like this
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yarnivek1972
Sep 19 2018 05:58 AM

Agreed... But... When the numbers are real bad? The decision can't be difficult anymore... it just can't.


Given that the back up plans this year were Taylor Motter, Ryan LaMarre, et al, the decision becomes quite difficult. But therein lies the bigger issue - lack of depth.
    • Nine of twelve likes this

Given that the back up plans this year were Taylor Motter, Ryan LaMarre, et al, the decision becomes quite difficult. But therein lies the bigger issue - lack of depth.


Agreed that the depth on this team is a huge issue that needs to be fixed for 2019 and beyond. However we have a 25 and 40 man roster just like everybody else does and this year we had Wilson, Buxton, Sano, Morrison who were all well below replacement level. We would have been better with simple replacement level. This is on the front office but it is also on the manager and players.

Astudillo should have been playing catcher and Wilson should have been in AAA.

Cave should have been called up sooner it seems a stint on the DL for someone swinging on crutches might have triggered that.

Grossman wasn’t very good early but he made the 25 man roster for some sort of purpose. LaMarre our performed Buxton and it can be argued that Petit our performed Dozier at his 90% or whatever he was claiming to be in the paper.

I’m not claiming we would have won a title but there is no excuse for the performance we got from 6 of our everyday players.

 

Agreed that the depth on this team is a huge issue that needs to be fixed for 2019 and beyond. However we have a 25 and 40 man roster just like everybody else does and this year we had Wilson, Buxton, Sano, Morrison who were all well below replacement level. We would have been better with simple replacement level. This is on the front office but it is also on the manager and players.

Astudillo should have been playing catcher and Wilson should have been in AAA.

Cave should have been called up sooner it seems a stint on the DL for someone swinging on crutches might have triggered that.

Grossman wasn’t very good early but he made the 25 man roster for some sort of purpose. LaMarre our performed Buxton and it can be argued that Petit our performed Dozier at his 90% or whatever he was claiming to be in the paper.

I’m not claiming we would have won a title but there is no excuse for the performance we got from 6 of our everyday players.

Somewhat off topic, but you mentioned Grossman. I've never had strong feelings either way about him --- I can pretty much take him or leave him --- but he seems to be hitting very well the past month or so, one of the stronger bats in an otherwise weak lineup.

“Playing hurt” is always a tough call. First off, few players are 100 percent physically during much of an MLB season. So most everyone plays at some level below 100 percent at points during a season.

Then, It’s often really hard to know when someone is hurt, or just sore from the grind. If hurt, how hurt? Will they make it worse by playing?

You might decide that 90 percent of a given player is better than 100 percent of his replacement. You might need that replacement player at another position anyway, because he’s subbing for someone in worse shape, so the guy at 90 percent HAS to play.

It’s not as simple as “Don’t play Dozier with a sore knee.” Obviously there’s a point where you should DL him, but often these situations aren’t as black and white as we like to imagine them. Players have to play, or they’re worthless. And replacements don’t grow on trees, nor are they usually good as the player they are replacing.


Concur. It's a no win proposition for the player and team. If players were placed on the DL every time they're banged up fans will label them as injury prone and soft. If they play through injury and struggles doing so, fans will think he doesn't have it anymore and wants him DFA'd.

 

Somewhat off topic, but you mentioned Grossman. I've never had strong feelings either way about him --- I can pretty much take him or leave him --- but he seems to be hitting very well the past month or so, one of the stronger bats in an otherwise weak lineup.

 

Grossman is much maligned on Twinsdaily. I'm not one of those. I'm indifferent toward his ability much like you are. 

 

Personally... I think he can help you win games and his OBP has value but I also feel that a more complete package should be acquired because his OF defense is lacking and more power is out there. Jake Cave for example.

 

In my opinion, I don't know if he is the type of guy that you settle down with, while calling yourself set and not look for improvement which shouldn't be that hard to find. 

 

However... He was chosen on purpose by the decision makers to be a part of the 25 man roster,

 

It should be understood without any doubt that injuries will occur during the course of a season and it should be understood without any doubt that at it is also a strong possibility that someone you were counting on will not perform. 

 

There should be no doubt because we see it every single year in Twins Land. 

 

If Grossman made the 25 man roster out of spring training... there was absolutely no reason for him to not get more playing time when you consider that Morrison was playing through the pain of a hip injury and his numbers were bad. 

 

If Molitor can't turn to Grossman under those conditions... Then the front office needs to be aware of that and on the phone with another team or agent in full out effort to acquire someone that Molitor will turn to when Morrison or Buxton is not producing because of injury. 

 

There is no excuse for this.

 

 

Brian Dozier.

 

Back in May or June I made the statement that the Dodgers would never tolerate the production of our players because the Dodgers will turn to the next guy. I then went on a month long Dodgers kick in an attempt to point out a different way of doing things. 

 

 

I'm sad for Brian Dozier but glad that he was able to show what I was talking about. Dozier is now playing only against left-handers because he hasn't met their standards. He has been beaten out of a job.

 

They didn't acquire Dozier as a left handed specialist. They acquired him to man 2B and help in the playoffs. It was Brian Dozier's performance (injury related or whatever) that has minimized his playing time.  

 

Before Brian Dozier... Logan Forsythe was the casualty of sub-par play. And it isn't Dodgers money that is providing the depth. These are major league minimum players who are replacing Forsythe and Dozier. Taylor, Hernandez and Muncy and by turning to these guys and giving them a chance to beat Dozier for the main job... They created depth out of thin air. 

 

The Twins need to follow this model. Play the players who actually win the job through performance. The Dodgers don't mess around and the Twins have been incredibly patient to a fault. 

IMO, Dozier and Morrison saying they were playing “hurt” is them trying to put a spin on poor performance to attempt to pull the wool over someone’s eyes when it comes time to sign their next contract. I suspect it won’t work. Morrison will likely have to settle for a minor league deal and Dozier will be lucky to get one plus an option year. Both are one position players, and one dimensional. They hit home homeruns. Neither is particularly good at the one position they do play. Dozier’s days as a base stealer are pretty much over. One dimensional and they didn’t do that one dimension particularly well this year. If the Dodgers QO him, he would be wise to take it IMO.


And Dozier isn't even selling it as well as Morrison is, with his unnecessary hip surgery.
    • Twins33, Riverbrian and mngopherguy like this
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yarnivek1972
Sep 19 2018 07:53 PM

Brian Dozier.

Back in May or June I made the statement that the Dodgers would never tolerate the production of our players because the Dodgers will turn to the next guy. I then went on a month long Dodgers kick in an attempt to point out a different way of doing things.


I'm sad for Brian Dozier but glad that he was able to show what I was talking about. Dozier is now playing only against left-handers because he hasn't met their standards. He has been beaten out of a job.

They didn't acquire Dozier as a left handed specialist. They acquired him to man 2B and help in the playoffs. It was Brian Dozier's performance (injury related or whatever) that has minimized his playing time.

Before Brian Dozier... Logan Forsythe was the casualty of sub-par play. And it isn't Dodgers money that is providing the depth. These are major league minimum players who are replacing Forsythe and Dozier. Taylor, Hernandez and Muncy and by turning to these guys and giving them a chance to beat Dozier for the main job... They created depth out of thin air.

The Twins need to follow this model. Play the players who actually win the job through performance. The Dodgers don't mess around and the Twins have been incredibly patient to a fault.


Not really seeing guys that are stepping up and saying “play me”. Other than Cave and Astudillo. Which really doesn’t help at 1b, 3b or 2b. Vargas was terrible in AAA. Gordon was overmatched. Most of the AAA roster was just plain bad. Quality players are out there. But they are not in the upper levels of this organization. If this team wants to contend, that has to change.

Think about 1991. Granted, there weren’t a lot of major injuries. But there were some DL stints here and there. Dan Gladden gets hurt. Shane Mack struggles. Enter Pedro Munoz. Junior Ortiz gets hurt. Lenny Webster produces.

As I recall, the Twins sort of piecemealed the 4 and 5 spots in September, going with guys like Willie Banks, Tom Edens, Denny Neagle, Paul Abbott and Allan Anderson. The Twins got some production from all those guys. It helped that Tom Kelly was a master at putting players in position to succeed. But the FO recognized the importance of having quality players that can help at the MLB level in AAA.

That is what this FO needs to do. Plus get some talent at the MLB level.
    • Riverbrian likes this

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