The Indians have spent barely more than a week at Spring Training and already the injuries are starting up. First it was Grady Sizemore injuring his back, then Chris Perez straining an oblique muscle during his first mound session. Combine that with the overwhelmingly large amount of soft tissue injuries that occurred last season and the mystery shoulder injury to Travis Hafner over the past few years and it makes you stop and think for a second.
Do the Indians need a new training staff?
Injuries are going to happen. It’s a part of sports and part of being an athlete. Anyone who’s ever played a sport can tell you first hand that they’re going to happen. Some injuries can be nothing more than bad luck. Take for example Shin-Soo Choo’s broken thumb last season against the Giants. He got hit by a pitch, the ball crushed his thumb against the bat, and we saw him in the lineup two months later. Same goes for pretty much any broken bone, jammed joint, or bump and bruise. They’re unavoidable.
It’s the nagging soft tissue injuries though that have been the problem and can be so discouraging. Pulled hamstrings, strained obliques and muscles fatigue, all of these have crippled the Indians over the past couple of seasons, particularly last season when the Indians were in the thick of things in the AL Central. What’s the cause of all of it? Are the Indians working out too long and too hard? Are they not working out enough? Is it improper stretching? Any and all of those reasons point directly at the training staff.
Their sole purpose with the Indians is to prepare them in the offseason, help them get into shape, and keep them up and moving throughout the marathon that is the 162 MLB season. The same goes for any sports, quite frankly. You can even make a case that training staffs are 10 times more important in sports such as football and basketball where more physical contact and pounding on the body occurs. But the fact remains, the Indians training staff has a job to do and despite all of the praise and accolades they receive, you can’t help but feel they’re doing something wrong.
Is Lonnie Soloff not giving the roster the proper training regiment? Is he working them too hard in the offseason? Is he not putting them through the proper stretching exercises before they step out onto the field? These are things I would like to know. I’m sure I’m not the only fan of a team that wonders these things and gets frustrated from what they see, but you can’t hide from the truth. The Indians just seem abnormally prone to these types of avoidable injuries. They used the DL 22 times last season, second most in the AL. The trainers room wasn’t so much a therapy center, more like a Vietnam era MASH unit.
So what gives? Should the blame fall in the lap of Lonnie Soloff or is it the players to blame? For everything he tells the players to do or not do, it’s ultimately up to them to follow through with his instructions. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t. Ultimately, the responsibility falls on them. Let’s just hope Spring Training isn’t an early indication of what’s to come.
Hawkeye and Trapper aren’t going to come walking through the door to save this MASH unit any time soon.