It's easy to ignore at this point in the season, but Michael Cuddyer's latest trip to the disabled list marks the continuation of a disturbing pattern we've seen unfold over and over again: a Rockies player gets hurt in a game, their status is described as day-to-day, a few days will pass without improvement, and then the player lands on the DL, possibly to never be seen again for the rest of the year.
/weeps for Cargo and Tulo
An ever-increasing number of fans have been showcasing their frustration regarding this pattern, and apparently even the players are getting tired of the mistrust vented from those outside of the organization. The pattern led Cuddyer to say this last Friday:
"I'm not going on the Disabled List ... You can put it in bold letters."
Well ... um ... yeah, about that ...
It would be one thing if this was an isolated incident, but sadly, it's the rule rather than the exception. Here are just a few quotes surrounding some of the biggest injuries this season after the training staff first got a chance to evaluate the situation.
On Troy Tulowitzki's injury that ended up being a torn labrum, which required major surgery and a five-month recovery time:
After the game ...
"He's showing good strength. He's just a little sore." - Keith Dugger
July 20 ...
"I still consider him day-to-day, but he's sore. It could be a couple or three days. We'll monitor it and just check in with him hourly, but I'm expecting it to be another day or two. We caught this one early so I'm feeling good about that." - Walt Weiss
On Tyler Chatwood's injury (that ended up requiring Tommy John surgery), which wasn't discovered until months after playing his last game:
After the game ...
"Chatty had some tightness in his elbow, so we wanted to get him out at that point. Just precautionary." - Weiss
May 2 ...
"We'll take little goals every two weeks and see how he's progressing, but he feels pretty good right now, to be honest with you." - Dugger
On Carlos Gonzalez's finger injury, which also required surgery (the famed "fatty mass with tentacles"):
May 1 ...
"It's just, when you get jammed, it hurts really bad, but it's something that will go away, not like last year. Last year was a ligament." - Carlos Gonzalez
May 2 ...
"I'm just going to chill today, try to take a day off from swinging, try to avoid impact on my hand, but it's making a lot of progress. I feel better today. I hope I'll be ready to go tomorrow." - Gonzalez
May 21 ...
"The finger blew up on him again, so we'll take a look at him when he comes in the morning." - Weiss
"It's just a weird injury. I wish I had an answer that will tell me what's happening. I didn't hit the ball bad at all. But it got big and swollen." - Gonzalez
May 22 ...
"It's a day-to-day thing, not any more serious than that." - Weiss
On Eddie Butler's injury, which landed him on the disabled list in June and possibly contributed to him not looking anything like the same pitcher since:
June 9 ...
"We're going to be cautious with a young pitcher like Eddie. He felt fine during his start but had some soreness the next day. There's no reason to push him, so we're going to give him some time to let that soreness go away. Hopefully, it's not anything serious. We don't think it is right now." - Weiss
June 18 ...
"Everything looks good; he's feeling good; he's pain-free. We're just going to probably back off another 4-5 days on his throwing, and pick it up maybe on the weekend playing catch again." - Dugger
Bonus quote from Dugger on the same day, discussing Chatwood's throwing session as he tried to return from an injury that actually required surgery ...
It went fabulous.
June 23 (on the preventive maintenance the training staff apparently never taught Butler) ...
"He was just young and didn't know. Sometimes good things happen when a guy goes on the shelf for a while. They learn that the routine they got away with when they were amateurs or early professionals doesn't work when you get up here, so you have to help educate them. It's not just when you're hurt. It's a preventative measure. It's the same as brushing your teeth every day. That's what you teach, how to get a routine." - Dugger
Actual headline from Rockies.com on June 8:
Cuddyer nears return from injured left shoulder
Actual headline from Rockies.com on June 9:
Fracture to sideline Cuddyer for six to eight weeks
There's even more stuff out there, including Jhoulys Chacin's shoulder problems and Cargo's second injury, but I'm already running late this morning so this will have to do for now.
Either way, the point is clear. This training staff has consistently misdiagnosed and/or underestimated the severity of injuries all season.
What's perhaps even more frustrating however is that those around the organization don't believe that the training staff is part of the part problem. In fact, every member of the media I've talked with who covers the team consistently and aggressively defends the training staff, as seen in this example here with David Martin and Nick Groke:
This leaves fans at an impasse. It's obvious these injuries are a huge problem for the franchise; I would argue they are the biggest problem, but nobody in or around the organization believes the training staff is the root cause of things getting out of control here. Since most of the information beyond this point is confidential, we're stuck. This vital topic can't be moved forward, and it's monumentally frustrating.
I can only come to this unsatisfying conclusion: the Rockies are either the unluckiest team in the league when it comes to injuries, or they have the most incompetent training staff in the league. There are no other answers here unless it's a combination of both. What we've watched this season is not normal. Not even close, even accounting for the increased injury environment across MLB.
Following this club almost isn't even about baseball at this point. It's about trying to understand things which require significant speculation and knowledge in many fields with which most fans aren't familiar. Not fun. When the DL situations get this out of control team wide, the true talent level of the franchise just becomes a blur, and that's unfortunate.
The Rockies must fix this problem immediately. This should be the top priority. It doesn't matter how much talent they have on their roster (and I think they do have much more than they get credit for); they will never win if they have the majority of their roster spending time on the DL.
Oh look, more injuries. This time to Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson, two of the club's top prospects.
David Martin actually sees some good signs on the current roster as the Rockies try to build towards 2015.
The Red Sox landed Rusney Castillo over the weekend. Castillo is just the latest in what's becoming a stream of big-name players fleeing Cuba in search of the greener pastures of MLB. So far, these players have been up to the task of making an impact on the big stage, as we've seen with Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Abreu.
The A's lost a game to the Angels last night, and now they've lost closer Sean Doolittle to the DL. They also needed an MRI on Josh Donaldson's knee.
Puig is an outstanding talent, but his foolishness on the base paths continues to cost his team runs and prevent him from reaching his full potential. His latest mistake resulted in a triple play Sunday.