By TERRY LYONS, Editor-in-Chief
BOSTON – Judging the greater good of Major League Baseball and its legion of pitchers by one small transaction in Boston is not a healthy exercise in forecasting a potential injury trend facing the sport. That job is left to our cohorts who fill time on sports radio talk shows and for fans who can tweet to their heart is content, surely declaring the “sky is falling.”
Chris Sale met with media after being placed on DL
What we will point out is Sale’s shoulder injury is not a simple one-off, nor is it a knock at the door by dear old Father Time, the man who remains undefeated in every sport.
The issue at hand today happens everyday in every baseball town in the world. It is a non-epidemic occurrence. The Boston Red Sox, its President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and his manager Alex Cora decided to shut-down their ace left-hander, Chris Sale, for one single start in the middle of this Summer of Sox. The club announced Sale would miss a single start against the New York Yankees on Thursday, due to shoulder inflammation, but is likely pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays, in Toronto, sometime between August 7-9th.
There is no public outcry, nor should there be.
Both Dombrowski and Sale addressed the media in no uncertain terms to put forth the club’s precautionary desires to quell the panic of the Boston sports market, sure to draw speculation if the team had not managed the announcement without making the player available.
There is no warning of epidemic proportions being issues by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia nor studios on Landsdowne Street.
There is no reason to run out and sell all your stocks or the shares making up your 401-K.
Don’t call WEEI or 98.5 in Boston, threatening to panic.
What you might do is stop, take a deep breath, and look at the slew of injured pitchers dotting MLB line-ups everywhere.
Here’s a partial list: Stephen Strasburg (DL) in Washington; Michael Wacha (DL), Adam Wainwright (elbow) and Carlos Martinez (oblique) in St. Louis, with the latter hoping to return to throwing this week; Japanese two-way player and phenom Shohei Ohtani who suffered a UCL sprain in his elbow early in his MLB debut season with the LA Angels, or Garrett Richards (60-Day DL) elbow injury and out indefinitely with the LAA; Blake Snell (DL) in Tampa Bay out with shoulder injury; Yu Darvish (DL) with the Chicago Cubs but hoping to return to throwing this week; Michael Fulmer (DL) for Detroit, out with oblique injury; Johnny Cuerto (elbow) and Jeff Samardzija (shoulder) of San Francisco, both on the DL and out indefinitely; Erasmo Ramirez (DL) in Seattle; and that doesn’t include a slew of finger or hip issues and it certainly doesn’t delve into the situation facing the New York Mets over the past couple years, or in Oakland this season.
Oakland’s Daniel Gossett will be the fourth A’s starting pitcher to have Tommy John surgery this season, joining Opening Day hurler Kendall Graveman, veteran starter Jharel Cotton and prospect A.J. Puk.
And, you can look no further than New York where ace Noah Syndergaard (DL) was recently sidelined with a viral injury. Syndergaard has been limited to 13 starts this season, including Aug. 1st when he went 7.0 innings and took the loss vs. Washington. Looking back, the Mets’ once-heralded starting crew of Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz (having his forearm examined today after a (25-4) shellacking Tuesday and the discarded Black Knight – Matt Harvey – never once pitched in rotation for the NYM, as they were all subjected to a medical reports that ran longer than the 7 Line at one time or another as the Mets struggled.
St. Louis Cardinals ace Michael Wacha was injured earlier this season
The MLB bullpen and closer listings of injured pitchers is equally daunting.
Chicago (Cubs) Brandon Morrow, Cleveland’s Andrew Miller, Atlanta’s Arodys Vizcaino, and Washington’s Sean Doolittle are all out and/or on the DL.
For contact sports like the NFL football or NHL ice hockey, there is no sense in worrying about injuries. It seems that in Major League Baseball, there is more cause for concern, as the wear and tear becomes the virus, rather than what blunt force trauma is to the contact sports. In MLB, a sport that saw the likes of Jim Bunning, Ferguson Jenkins, Tom Seaver, or Bob Gibson clock some 250-300 innings a season, never mind Cy Young or Walter Johnson who did the impossible by throwing nearly everyday, the modern day pitchers and relievers are specialists and everything from limited pitch counts in their formative years to single inning appearances and multiple days of rest for everyone in the bullpen is now the norm. All with hopes to prolong pitching careers.
With all the injuries, Baseball’s only logical solution might be for management to simply limit the length of contracts offered to pitchers and, ultimately, to limit the expectations on career length, an unpopular conclusion for fans, management and the athletes themselves.
As Sale said as he explained his hopes for a limited stint on the DL, “I don’t think me going out there – not at 100% – is gonna help us,” added Sale. “I don’t think going out there and risking something more severe would be any good either. I don’t like this at all. I’m a pitcher who pitches (noting every five days), I don’t like sitting on the sidelines watching someone else doing my job. But, when it happens, you’ve got to keep your chin up, keep grinding, keep working and I’ll be back out there, hopefully, in Toronto.”
Pitchers want to pitch, regardless of the damage to their life and limbs.