CALLING MR. GOODWRENCH

By:  Holly Horning

If you bought an insanely expensive car, you’d take care of it, right? Keep it running well? Making sure that any unusual knocks or pings were checked out by a mechanic before they became worse? (Ok, so I’m from Detroit, come from a third-generation Ford family, and love Top Gear, so you’ll have to get used to reading my automotive parallels.)

Well, the Tigers are baseball’s equivalent of that high-performance vehicle given their rank of fourth-highest payroll in 2015. And once again, they are in the hunt for that elusive ring. So shouldn’t this mean that they can’t afford to allow their stars or pivotal players to get hurt or spend time on the DL for long? Strangely, it appears they are being rather lax in this respect.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with raised eyebrows back in 2013 when Miggy got injured mid-season and then re-injured. We watched him grimace, in obvious pain, but never once hitting the DL. Despite fans being told rest wouldn’t help, an operation followed in the off-season. Last season was a replay of 2013, again with more operations and a “surprise” broken foot. Being in the chase for a pennant may be a good argument for keeping a star in the lineup, but a short-sighted one when you have a player of Miggy’s caliber who just signed for 10+ years and $292 million more.

Flash forward to this year. Miggy ignores his manager’s orders and slides into second base during his first week back. Add to that, VMart refusing to be pulled from a game after he comes up limping. Yet, he continues to play, runs with a hitch and reports there is pain – which is now catching the national media’s concern. Just who is in charge of protecting these valuable human investments?

But the list of essential players getting hurt, or being left dangerously exposed, continues to grow. Consider:

Alex Avila – Despite several years of suffering concussions, and having a former major-league catcher as manager, he only starts to wear a special mask this year after suffering three concussions in 2014. Given his proclivity to concussions, one would think it would have been addressed before the record-breaking number last year.

Jose Iglesias – After missing an entire year (and part of the previous year) due to leg stress fractures, he bruises a shin on his first day back. Only after a line drive to a shin several days later, do the Tigers finally decide that shin guards may be needed. Professional writers may dislike this, but the only response I have to this is “Duh.”

Justin Verlander – Most teams insert clauses into highly-paid players’ contracts that require team approval before participating in certain hobbies. Yet, JV takes trapeze classes which are best suited for gymnasts 5’8″ and under with heavily developed inverted triangle upper bodies, not guys who are 6’5″, lanky and 225 lbs. Trapeze work puts the biggest strain on shoulders and arms (perfect for pitchers!) with most reported injuries associated with rotator cuffs, and yes, triceps.

Bruce Rondon – After missing more than a year due to injury and TJ surgery, Rondon is said to have hit 100 MPH on his first day back. With only 28 innings of MLB experience, he continues to throw hard right out of the box after missing so much time. Is it a wonder he now has tendonitis?

Mr. I is the owner of this car. He’s got a team of mechanics that include doctors, trainers, GM and manager. But no one appears willing to do what is needed to keep this machinery running at top speed. Is it any surprise that these ongoing and increasing number of injuries are one of the fans’ biggest concerns? Whatever the team position is on preventing injury and protecting players, it needs to be recalled…….