TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

September can’t get here soon enough for the Tiger starting rotation as pitchers are dropping like flies. Even for the most devoted fans, it’s hard to keep track of who is going to pitch from one day to the next.

As always, our writers have not shared their answers to the Tuesday question, offering a range of perspectives  is always the goal.

So what will readers get today as Holly and Kurt address a question about the state of the starting rotation?


Only 2 starting pitchers in the regular rotation remain. Obviously, 1 was traded and several got injured. But over the past week, the Tigers have been scrambling to find multiple starters at the last minute. What are our bloggers thinking about all of this?


HOLLY

It’s been the perfect storm of losing talent, injuries, a thin farm system and a desperate attempt to find a plausible arm in the bargain basement bin.

The loss of JV and Mike Fiers has obviously depleted the starting ranks, but most of the team’s injuries have been pitchers, especially starting pitchers. Almost all of them have been on the DL this year with 3 of them expected to be out for most or all of the rest of the year and the need to find replacements for all but Zimmermann.

But there’s a concern when 2 youngsters go down at the same time, both with elbow injuries, which just accelerates the destruction of the rotation. I’ve lost count how many pitchers the Tigers have DFA’d recently – Saupold, Turner, McAllister, Bell, VerHagen, Labourt, Hardy, Stumpf, Mujica, and others I’ve forgotten. Some of whom have found their way back into the Tigers system for another go-round and turn up again in the rotation like a bad penny.

It’s also pretty bad when you sign a pitcher DFA’d by 5 other teams, call him up, get bombed, send him down and then call him up again a week later to start a game because there is no one else. But the worst is then finding out he hasn’t yet met the call back date rules and you tell another pitcher as he arrives at the ballpark that – surprise! – you’re starting the game today! That is a mind-boggling, dumb and desperate move unbecoming of a MLB team.

It all either means that you have no one even remotely talented enough in AA or AAA to bring up and/or the owner has told his GM that he can only shop from the 75% off/clearance bin because the wallet has slammed shut.


KURT

There is no better time than year 1 of the rebuild, to be forced to bring up pitchers and evaluating what you have, regardless of the reason. But what is exasperating is finding out how little they have at AAA. The talent, and I use that term loosely, has been sub-par and no one has stood out as potential building blocks for a future starting rotation.

Weeks back, I think both Holly and I mentioned Victor Alcantara as having the most potential to join the starting staff as early as next season. But thus far, he has only been used in the pen, and he has been impressive.

From a starter standpoint, it tells you that even if the team has talented starting pitching in the pipeline, it is so far down the pipe you can’t see the light. They haven’t even been mentioned as possibilities for September call ups. So, will we see more options to consider in September, or is it just too soon for anyone meaningful?


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THE YEAR OF THE PITCHER

By:  Kurt Snyder

Did you know there was a time when the only purpose of the pitcher in baseball was to initiate putting the ball in play? For awhile, they only threw underhand and there were no balls and strikes. The batter didn’t have to swing until he saw something he liked. Talk about long games!

After many years of dominant offense and pitchers throwing 200-300 pitches a game, the pitcher’s mound was instituted and it rose to 15 inches in height until 1968. The reason? Pitching dominated and hitting was weak. The game was not as exciting for fans, unless you were a fan of low scoring, pitching dominated games, which, oh, by the way, to the purest of fans, is entertaining as well. But those fans were in the minority and Major League Baseball needed to act.

So 1968 was considered The Year of the Pitcher; the last season of the 15-inch mound. Major League Baseball said ‘enough.’  The mound was lowered 5 inches, which is where it sits today.

This season, the Tigers celebrate their 50-year anniversary of the 1968 World Championship, when they completed an improbable comeback from a 3-1 series deficit, despite the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson looking like he could win the title all by himself. The dominance of Gibson and several others, necessitated the mound change. Baseball had become stale.

So here we are, 50 years later. And it may be time again.

Pitching is dominant. Offense is down and strikeouts are up. The games are long and again, to the new fan and all the fans the game needs to draw, the game is stale and boring.

Sure, we have offensive players who are hitting the ball out of the park and with the emphasis on launch angle ravaging the game, players are bound to strike out more as they focus on getting the ball up in the air and out of the park. This approach naturally has turned offensive baseball into ‘all or nothing.’

So the issues with today’s game is more than just about mound height. But after 50 years and a precedent that has been set, lowering the mound again could inject some juice into the game and gain more attention from the new fan.

I watched a game between the Red Sox and the Phillies last week, and the mound height was discussed. One of the announcers questioned why we even have a pitcher’s mound. Well, there is a lot of history behind it, which I hope he researched after the game.

He said, (paraphrased), we never had a mound in Little League when we were growing up!

Well, let’s not get crazy and decide that we don’t need a pitcher’s mound at all. We don’t want to kill pitchers. We don’t want to totally strip them of any ability to get batters out. But after 50 years, if the game is waning, and the search continues for better and more interesting play, along with the ever-popular pace of play discussion, let’s lower the mound again.

How much is anyone’s guess, but it appears the game needs it. I have always been of the mind that we need to be careful with the changes we make to the game. And we do. But I also understand that the game must evolve.

If every 50 years, baseball needs a facelift, so be it.  Let’s get on with it.


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DAY OF RECKONING

By:  Holly Horning

The end of the 2017 season brought managerial changes to 6 teams. And it was the first year that teams got creative about “doing in” their managers. Afterall, “firing” someone tends to either attract potential threats on the part of the injured party or lots of negative social media blowback. None of it good.

The Red Sox were the only team to officially fire their manager . In Detroit, NY (Yankees) and DC, they refused to use the term “fired” and simply chose to wordsmith their decision as “opting not to renew their contract.” Although, the Nats wonderfully-mannered GM, Mike Rizzo, did utter the “f” word to Dusty Baker over the phone instead of in person, after he led his team to the best record in MLB.

Btw, if you listen closely, you can hear Dusty laughing…..

The Mets manager resigned and in Philly, they really got creative by “moving” their manager into the Front Office.

In the off-season, the Giants fired some coaches and their GM and the momentum continued into the early part of the 2018 season with the firing of 2 managers in St. Louis and Cincinnati. The Reds also changed their GM.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we know the Tigers won’t make any changes (other than potentially hiring a permanent pitching coach to replace Bosio) after this year. It’s not in their DNA. Al Avila still has 2 more years left in his contract and if they can’t say “buh-bye” to the fired former manager’s coaches, everyone is pretty much safe here. That is, until a new owner takes over.

One can hope.


So who’s at risk of being separated from their team in September or October? Here are the candidates..

RED SOX – This time, it’s all on Dave Dombrowski to push his team into the playoffs and perform much, much better after firing his manager and coaches, depleting the farm system and running the payroll up into the stratosphere. It’s his third year and no GM in recent Bosox history has lasted longer than that.

BLUE JAYS – Manager John Gibbons has been rumored all year to be leaving.

ORIOLES – One of MLB’s biggest messes. A GM who has tried to flee (I kid you not), a manager who doesn’t want to be there and 2 sons of an ageing owner now running the place without a clue.

ROYALS – One of the biggest gambles in keeping their best players backfired big time. It could be a double beheading of both manager and GM.

ANGELS – Owner favorite Mike Scioscia (Moreno and Scioscia’s wives are best friends) may finally be gone as the payroll and talent have gone way up with little to show for it. And Mike Trout only has 2 more years to get that ring….

RANGERS – Jon Daniels has been extended as GM and the team is rebuilding, however there is a growing demand for accountability and manager Jeff Banister may just be the sacrificial lamb.

METS – GM Sandy Alderson has taken a leave of absence. The team continues to be a mess and the new GM this fall will undoubtedly make changes in personnel.

NATIONALS – I’ve lost count how many managers have come through the revolving door. The only constant is a meddling owner combined with a GM who don’t have a clue about how to hire competent personnel. In what has become an annual tradition, expect the bloodletting to once again commence in October.

DODGERS – No team spends as much as the Dodgers. And few teams have routinely disappointed more. And now, manager Dave Roberts has gotten the dreaded “vote of confidence.”


Nine teams with obvious issues. Ironically, there may be more personnel movement within the Front Offices than there will be of free agent signings this off-season.

It will be interesting to see which of these teams will actually recognize that they have issues to resolve.

And the Tigers? Will we see definitive signs of a real rebuild and new direction? Or could maintaining the status quo simply be a holding pattern strategy as ownership explores selling the team?

Let’s watch for the clues.


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NOTABLE NEWS

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Even though we are following a team that is not a lot of fun to watch right now, there is still news. There is always something published here to ponder.

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspectives. During any given week, they could head in a number of directions.

Let’s see where they ended up based on what has transpired this week heading into the series in Minnesota.


KURT

As we head into the final weeks of August and we contemplate who may come up in September when the rosters are expanded, the Tigers have a unique situation.

They really need to expand their roster! Mainly because with everyone taking turns on the DL, more players are needed to fill in. Whether it be in the outfield, the infield or with the starting pitching, the Tigers have put the 10-day DL to good use. But it’s getting kind of ridiculous.

The latest victim? Blaine Hardy now takes his turn on the DL with elbow tendinitis, just after Artie Lewicki took his turn, with his own elbow problem.  John Hicks, JaCoby Jones – yep, they are on the list as well, with Hicks also done for the season.

Just another reminder that the Tigers need to at least have a discussion about their training staff. As if Justin Verlander’s little diatribe wasn’t enough.


HOLLY

And then there were 4. Four core muscle surgeries within 4 years – JV, Miggy, Daniel Norris and now John Hicks. It’s not a standard or frequently seen injury and to have this many all on one team speaks volumes about the poor, outdated training program of the Tigers.

It is an injury created by a significantly weak core, identified as the area that stabilizes the entire body and helps to prevent injury. Most MLB teams now require their players to practice either yoga, Pilates or another core-building discipline, but not the Tigers.

I have attended spring training sessions to watch in horror at how inflexible these players are (based upon my 20+ years practicing both yoga and Pilates). And regular reader Nocynic shared a friend’s report with me about the stark contrast between the pre-game stretching routines of the Tigers and their opponents. (Thanks, Max!)

How many more players have to be diagnosed and operated on…. how many more premier players in all sports do they have to hear endorse the benefits…how many more medical reports do they have to read…before this team finally does something to bring their training into the 21st Century?


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FORUM FOR FRIDAY

microphoneHappy Friday! It’s time again to head into the weekend hearing from our readers.   You have the rest of the week to hear from Kurt and Holly, today is the day to let them know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Friday is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can get those juices flowing.

Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.

We can’t wait to get your thoughts on the following topic.


Share your favorite VMart moment during his time in a Tiger uniform.


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CELEBRATE WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE

By:  Kurt Snyder

It’s official. Victor Martinez has announced that this will be the final year of his fine baseball career.

It is a career that should be celebrated. It is the big picture reflection many have forgotten.

A lot of the attention has been focused on how he should no longer be in the lineup, how the Tigers’ contract extension should never have been offered, how his diminished skills have potentially stifled the development of someone else and also how winning organizations like the Yankees would never invest any more time in someone who contributes very little at the end of their career.

We have heard all of it. We have discussed all of it. But for me, it is time to put it all aside and celebrate what he has done for the Tigers.

During all the winning, VMart stood high as one of the leaders on the field and in the clubhouse. His work ethic was a model for all the younger guys on the team. The way he battled at the plate, never giving in, always grinding, always focused, made him a leader on the field. An example of how to play the game. Never giving less than his very best.

I can throw stats at you, but that’s not my role here. Those are at your fingertips all over the web. We have to glorify the game by recognizing greatness and not forget the contributions players have made. And there is no better time to do that than when those good times have to come to an end.

Mike Ilitch, right or wrong, respected Victor Martinez for the role he played with this baseball team. As a leader. As a battler. As a fighter. As a winner. Plus, the duo of Miggy and VMart was one of baseball’s best offensive combinations.

Could he have spent more wisely on a replacement, someone younger or perhaps cheaper? Absolutely, but Mike loved to reward players, and treated them like family, only discarding them when they didn’t return the loyalty he showed them.

He made emotional decisions. And even with that, re-signing Victor to the 4-year deal, was still popular. There are those of you who will dispute and that’s fine.

In hindsight, it did, in time, hurt the ballclub.  But Ilitch’s intentions were always good. If you were able to ask him today if he thought he made a mistake re-signing Victor, we all know what the answer would be.

Mike was a confident man, committed to his team and loyal to his players. No decision he ever made, including the acquisition of Prince Fielder, would be viewed as a mistake in his eyes. He valued every moment he got, no matter how long, no matter how short.

To watch Victor in the lineup today, almost as one of the last stars standing, one of the last stars still here, has been sad. But in our hearts and in our minds, we remember.

How great has he  been for this organization?   He has brought immeasurable value.

Brad Ausmus, on the other hand,  brought out the worst in him.  In fact, VMart’s interactions with him were cringe-worthy.  There were puzzling moments under Brad that made Victor unrecognizable.  But, it’s hard to be a leader and respect a manager who had no grasp for the concept.

Those were the bumps in the road that must not define Victor Martinez. Let his best define him. Because at his best, he represented this team like no other, and his best should never be forgotten.

Oh, and one more thing.

Remember. We almost signed Adam Dunn instead.


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BFF

By:  Holly Horning

You see their comments in the social media threads……

The ones who chastise anyone who dares to criticize the team.

The ones who say you aren’t a “real fan” if you aren’t on board with everything the team does.

The ones who ignore reality and only see the upside of every player and management move.

More recently, they are the ones who kept arguing about how great Brad Ausmus was as manager, however could never provide any proof when prompted.

They are the ones who claim Nick Castellanos is a great outfielder and when presented with the stats, claim that they aren’t facts and that the numbers are merely “opinions.” (You simply can’t make this stuff up.)

And they are the ones now attacking Justin Verlander for his interview that questions the ability of the Tigers to diagnose, treat and resolve injury issues. Calling him names and insisting that he can’t speak with any authority. Ignoring the fact that JV was in pain, unable to perform simple exercises and identifying the experts and specific actions that brought him back to health.

Don’t you often shake your head over these people? Wonder why they live in denial?

You’re not alone. Psychologists have actually done studies about sports fans and come up with a number of categories based upon their beliefs and behavior.


They call this group BLIND FOLLOWERS or BLIND FOLLOWER FANS (BFF).

This group is defined as those fans who follow a team unquestionably. They always believe that their team is the best. And when faced with those who question the performance or decisions of the team, are unable (or unwilling) to grasp the facts and arguments.

And unlike other groups of sports fans, they don’t have a clear understanding of  that specific sport. But they will constantly indicate that they know more than anyone else.

They use argument and loud voices to try to counter facts and logic. And they will never supply you with facts or logic of their own to support their case. And if your comments make them upset, they may insult you or call you names.

It’s no use trying to get them to change their minds. They will not consider the information or stats presented. But they will always want to have the last word, no matter how many posts they have to make.

And it’s these BFFs who are the dream of any organization. Blind loyalty. Fans who don’t question. Fans who support their team no matter what.

Even when that team makes bad decisions. Even when the talent on that team is questionable.

These are the fans who will support the team both in voice and with their wallets.

That team finds comfort in the fact that they aren’t being questioned by these fans. That their feet aren’t being held to the fire. That they won’t have to make changes or be exposed to criticism. All of which can force change and cost jobs, promotions – and money.

And these BFFs are the bane of fans who seek competitive, quality teams. Get enough BFFs together and teams can safely wallow in mediocrity for years.

Sports economists will verify this as well. They have found that there is a direct correlation between the number of BFFs and the level of complacency by their team.

Simply put, an organization has no reason to improve their team if a significant number of their fans are not calling for accountability. If the fans aren’t holding feet to the fire. If not questioning the moves or performance of the organization.

And especially if those fans are supporting the team financially by attending games, buying food and merchandise and otherwise paying for team-related costs.

On the other hand, teams who see poor attendance, a drop in the overall value and diminished merchandise sales are more likely to work towards making their team more competitive.

Look no further than the recent Yankees. They spent no more than half a season doing almost a full rebuild on their team. A rebuild that took them to the brink of the World Series.

When asked to explain why the Yankees did such an accelerated rebuild, GM Brian Cashman said that Yankee fans would not have tolerated anything longer. He described them as an overall opinionated, vocal and impatient group.

Say what you will about the Evil Empire and their fans, but they get the job done. And that’s one reason why this team has been successful for so many years.

And not having those same opinionated, vocal and impatient traits may be a significant reason why Detroit fans lament the long droughts their teams experience in reaching the playoffs.

The 4 major sports teams don’t see a strong financial reason or enough fan unhappiness that would inspire them to change things. They continue along the same path because they are making a nice profit.

Remember, these teams aren’t in business to bring joy and championships to their fans, although that is what they will always tell you. To do that would cut into the profit margins by increasing expenses. Their job is to make money. To emulate the pre-Theo Epstein Cubs, which for decades produced one of baseball’s most mediocre teams, while also being MLB’s most profitable franchise.

On the East Coast where I live, fans are much less tolerant. And much more realistic. They demand more, expect more and let teams know when they are letting them down. Maybe Detroit fans should be a little less Midwest Nice and a little more East Coast Impatient. Could you see Yankee fans being happy with a 34-year drought between winning the World Series?

Logically, couldn’t we say that fans who have the ability to call out both the good and the bad about their team are the true fans? Those who are willing to look at what is wrong and call out the team in hope of changes being made?

Looked at another way, which group of fans are most likely to inspire the Tigers to rebuild more quickly and successfully?

We just need to get enough of them…….


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TWO FOR TUESDAY

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

We can all easily agree that this year’s version of the Detroit Tigers has not offered much excitement. Star power on this team is really non-existent, so fans must really scan the field  in order to find the best source of entertainment. And that source, by far, resides at shortstop.

Our writers again have not shared their answers to the Tuesday question. Offering a range of perspectives is always the goal. So what will readers get today as Holly and Kurt address a question about Iggy?   Let’s dig in.


Jose Iglesias is a free agent at the end of September. Knowing that the Tigers have been trying to trade him for a while now, what do you think the Tigers will do if they can’t trade him by the end of the year?


HOLLY

With only 7 weeks left in the season and until free agency, no team will trade for Iggy unless they are a contender and lose their shortstop between now and the end of August.

The Tigers will not make him a qualifying offer which is expected to be approximately $18.1 million because he will probably accept it, nor will they allow him to walk and receive nothing in return. Remember the backlash when the Tigers did that with Jhonny Peralta?

They are left with re-signing him as the only viable option on a deal with as few years as possible. Then they will attempt to trade him next year, hoping that a new contract will make him more appealing to teams looking for players locked into reasonable contracts.

Ironically, this may be the best option for the Tigers because they appear to have no heir apparent in the near future for their shortstop position going forward. Having Iggy return will buy Al Avila some time to get one of his minor league shortstops not named Dixon Machado ready to take over – and potentially coached by Iggy himself.


KURT

Under circumstances where they are unable to trade him, signing him is really the best avenue, for a number of reasons. His assumed heir apparent does not have a future as the team’s next shortstop, and any other candidates, of which there are a few, just aren’t ready to wrestle the position from someone as talented as Iggy.

And here is where the real value comes in. You know where Iggy stands on my list of favorite Tigers – right near the top. I don’t know if fans realize how lucky we have been to witness the incredible talents of Iglesias.

And if we are lucky enough to have him around a little longer, he will offer so much value in the present and the future. He can continue to play a stellar shortstop, and at the same time let the next guy in line soak up the position from one of the game’s best.

This would be the best case scenario on all fronts. His time here is getting shorter. But we need to squeeze every ounce of value out of him until the next guy gets his shot to shine at short.


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A NIGHTMARE ON THE HORIZON?

By:  Kurt Snyder

It was a great day for Tiger baseball on Sunday. Jack Morris saw his number retired and was overwhelmed by the experience. Alan Trammell will be next in less than 2 weeks.

And then we wait. Who will be next?

You probably thought I would spend today spreading Tiger sunshine about the number retirement of Morris, but incredibly, that has been overshadowed just a hair.

The campaigning for Lou Whitaker will continue of course, but what does the future hold for potential Tiger Hall of Famers over the next decade?

Miggy will certainly punch his Hall of Fame ticket when his career is done in Detroit. Several years have been ravaged by injuries and he must continue to fight his own body on the way to the Hall.   That is the hand he has been dealt.

But what about JV?

We can’t so quickly turn the page on Sunday’s Totally Tigers topic. Justin Verlander opened up a can on the Tigers’ mismanagement of his injuries, and Holly didn’t gloss over it.  She kicked that can around the block and back and gave the story more life than the Detroit papers were willing to give.


The ramifications.

The response.

The future.

All of it is up in the air after JV’s bombshell of a revelation about how his career almost came to an end in Detroit. Little did we know that JV felt the same way as many Tiger fans.

Didn’t we all think he was close to done? Well, now we know that he thought so as well.  The Tigers were doing very little to help put the brakes on a career careening over a cliff.

So what do the Tigers do now? Will they do anything with their training staff? Don’t they have a responsibility to act? Aren’t they obligated, now that JV has undressed them, to quickly scramble to fix a wrong?

As they continue to clean house and bring in new players, the house cleaning must include a systemic overhaul of their training staff. This is no joke, kids. Justin’s revelation was no exaggeration. And as a result, there should be legitimate concerns within the organization and among the fan base on a number of fronts – the Hall of Fame, for one.

As Justin Verlander’s career continues, he is looking more and more like a Hall of Famer. We weren’t sure for a while, but more awards and accolades appear to be waiting for him on the Houston horizon; opportunities that never seemed possible just 3 years ago.

So what does your head tell you on this?  Have you considered how damaging this whole saga could be? How much animosity does Justin have for the Tigers over how he was treated the last few years of his career in Detroit? It could change the course of what many assumed was a no-brainer, that JV would be enshrined in the Hall as a Tiger. It’s at risk now.

Seriously, the more post-Detroit success he has, the good times he had here may fade into the distance and only the bad will linger. His Houston experience has been amazing. He has only gotten better since he left, and is perhaps on the verge of another Cy Young Award and potentially more World Championships.

When it is all said and done and his playing days are over, he will have time to reflect on where the apex of his career was realized and where his legacy was cemented.

Sadly, the answer may not be Detroit. I can see him on the podium in Cooperstown, reflecting on his career, thanking the Tigers for drafting him, thanking the fans, thanking Mike Ilitch.

But that may be where it all stops. The Tigers nearly ruined Justin Verlander. And they may pay one day when one of the best pitchers in the history of Detroit baseball, chooses another hat to wear should the Hall of Fame come calling.


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THE LONG JOURNEY TO DISCOVERY

By:  Holly Horning

Many fans thought about it. Wondered about it. And given the pattern and numerous examples over the years, came to believe in it.

And if you were looking for confirmation, you’ve come to the right place.

So what is it?

It’s the long-running hot topic about some of those who care for Tigers’ players when it comes to keeping them healthy. They may not be doing their jobs as well as they could be.

And you’d have plenty of proof even if you only looked at the history since 2012.

You could even ask Justin Verlander because he did an extensive interview that called out the Tigers’ staff for poor conditioning and “misdiagnosing” him over a period of 3 years.

If you haven’t read it by now, the writer starts by describing JV’s “scars” – both physical and mental – and his anger over that long journey to get healthy.

To understand the arduous, frustrating process, let’s explore the timeline and related information documented by both writer and JV in the article, sprinkled with a few bits of background information.


2013

– In early 2013, JV’s arm started to hurt and the pain only grew worse as the year went on. Nothing was done to address the concern. (It is unclear how much the Tigers knew about the issue or when.)

– At the end of the 2013 season, JV hurt his groin doing a squat and an MRI was performed that also showed an undiagnosed core muscle injury. This had created the groin injury because he had a long-standing weakened core.

– Doctors, physical therapists and yoga/Pilates coaches will tell you that all strength and alignment of the body emanates from the core. A strong core keeps you healthy and flexible, while a weak one makes you susceptible to injury.

– JV and Miguel Cabrera both had identical core injury surgery within several weeks of each other.


2014

– JV came back in 2014 but his arm was still hurting a year later. The pain increased and his performance and velocity declined.

– In August 2014, almost 2 seasons after the pain in his arm began, one of the Tigers’ coaches suggested he get an MRI for the first time.

– The MRI showed multiple signs of tendonitis and tendinosis but no structural damage.

– But he still had pain in his arm and there was no detail offered that suggested the next course of treatment.

– As JV explained, he listened to the Tigers’ trainers and believed that only the best of the best worked at the MLB level. He trusted their guidance, but in October, he had enough and sought outside professional help.

– Two years after the first signs, he saw a physical therapist in NY who told him it wasn’t his arm that was the culprit, but that the symptoms manifested in the arm because of problems elsewhere.

– It was the first time anyone had told him that his arm wasn’t the problem.

– During their very first meeting, the PT found the problem. JV couldn’t do a simple squat. Since his surgery a year earlier, he had done no squats while training and not a single trainer or coach noticed.

– The diagnosis? JV wasn’t flexible, not even the tiniest bit according to the PT – and it was the source of his pain and decline. Worst of all, it started years ago and eventually forced JV to compensate in his pitching style because his range of motion had decreased significantly.

– The PT looked at his videos and immediately saw what was going on. JV was over-rotating his hips and had no power in his legs and glutes. He was pitching almost exclusively with his arms. Neither his manager, pitching coach, trainers and presumably doctors saw any of it.

– JV described his body as a “disaster.”

– But before enough therapy could be completed, JV hurt his arm again and the Tigers’ trainers diagnosed a triceps strain. They told him an MRI wouldn’t be needed because it was so mild.

– Several weeks later, he got hurt again and this time an MRI was done to show a tear in his back.

– At this point, Verlander started to work almost exclusively with the NY PT according to the article.


2015

– With his regular treatment, JV started to come around in July 2015 and returned to normal in 2016 when he finished a controversial second, instead of first, in the Cy Young voting.

The article was a summary of a three-year odyssey characterized by a lack of urgency, at least 1 “misdiagnosis” (according to JV) and failure to provide a well-rounded training and conditioning program.

And sadly, the examples appear to go beyond Justin.

Miggy, for example.

He has not had a healthy year since 2011. Fourteen different injuries and 4 major surgeries in just 6 years. Remember the back “tweak” he suffered during the WBC that the team said was minor? The same one that never went away during 2017 and contributed to his worst year of performance ever? The same tweak that turned out to be a double herniated disk problem?

The core injury from 2012 that wasn’t addressed for a full year before requiring surgery (at the same time Verlander had the identical surgery).

The ankle surgery that “surprised” everyone when they also found an unexpected broken bone in his foot that he had been playing on for a year?

The groin strains, hip flexor problems, back problems and the resulting core surgery that mimics many of the symptoms that JV had?


https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/a-long-time-coming/


Let’s not forget the odyssey of Jordan Zimmermann. The perplexing initial injury with a diagnosis that kept changing. Again, fans were reassured it was a short DL stint. And two years later, he’s still being treated for it.

But like JV, JZ got frustrated with the treatment he was receiving. He ended up returning to his long-time doctor in Washington for help and solutions.

Sense a pattern here?

In all fairness, we don’t know how and when the players communicated with the team about their injuries in the beginning. And if there was only one player with these issues, we’d probably think it was a single example. But there are at least 3 that we currently know about – and potentially have an inkling about another. And that is a pattern.

We also know that this has nothing to do with the official number of players who go on the DL. Those stats are deceiving and don’t tell the whole story. Afterall, these 3 were on the DL 1-2 times over the span of multiple years (or decades) and instead, played through constant pain and injuries that significantly impacted performance.

It’s also not about players who sustain injuries from direct collisions with players, balls, sliding hard into home plate and walls during games.

It’s about those players who get injured from doing the simple things, getting repeatedly injured and having a difficult time fully recovering. It’s about the soft tissue injuries that involve the groins, backs, hammies, obliques, tendons and other bits. And when there’s a lot of that, it points to a weak link in the program.


The takeaway from the article on JV hints at:

1. A lack of proper conditioning and ignoring the importance of flexibility and developing strong cores.

2. A lack of urgency in addressing injuries.

3. “Misdiagnoses” (according to at least 1 player) that have sent 3 of the most expensive players on the team to seek outside help.

One would think that when you have 2 of MLB’s most highly-paid athletes, you would take extra care in protecting your assets. That you would even be proactive about it.

To miss 1 injury, maybe. But to miss multiple injuries on multiple players speaks to something else. And it’s not good.

And as many have questioned, a number of those who oversee the physical programs have been with the team since being hired by Dave Dombrowski for the Expos and the Marlins. The same staff that hasn’t won a single award for their work since 2006. One of that same staff who is now in charge of overseeing the entire Detroit Tigers’ athletic training for not just Detroit, but for all of their minor league affiliates.

JV may have apologized for disparaging a former colleague but he didn’t apologize for being wrong. And the fact that his own comments are missing from the latest articles, as well as his refusal to clarify his statements, speaks volumes.


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