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Thread: Article: Nolasco and Injury Culture

  1. #41
    For those who are concerned about managment not making another move until Nolasco's contract is off the books, know that Ryan pursued Matt Garza to the last second, and offered him more annual money than Milwaukee did, after they had signed Nolasco and Hughes. They were ready to add more payroll, and don't see Ricky's injury deterring them from adding payroll

  2. #42
    Twins Moderator MVP ashburyjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by naobermiller View Post
    For those who are concerned about managment not making another move until Nolasco's contract is off the books, know that Ryan pursued Matt Garza to the last second, and offered him more annual money than Milwaukee did, after they had signed Nolasco and Hughes. They were ready to add more payroll, and don't see Ricky's injury deterring them from adding payroll
    Concur. I also note that, much like financial advisors tell you to "ladder" timed financial investments such as CDs, currently the pitching staff happens to be set up now so that one contract each year will expire. It's not implausible that when Correia moves on, another 4-year contract will be offered to someone else - especially when you note that to get good pitchers you have to offer the multi-year deals. Nothing's been said, and this flexibility may end up being used to lock up young talent like Meyer when the time comes rather than a free agent, but I still find it an interesting combination at the moment, Correia-> Pelfrey -> Hughes -> Nolasco.

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  4. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
    Scenario I:


    I wish I knew more about Nolasco's contract. If he had proclaimed that he's "injury free" and completely "ready to pitch"--and if he wasn't--could his contract be voided? IDK major league contracts (or others for that matter), but if there was a possibility that it could be voided for fraud, I definately would understand why Nolasco would try to "pitch through it". If things got worse, well it is reasonable to conclude that the injury occurred after he started pitching for the Twins.
    The Twins did take out an insurance policy on his arm that covers any elbow injuries. If he misses extended time, the organization will be recouped for loss (once deductibles are met) and Nolasco's contract won't be a drag on payroll.

    To be clear, this isn't something that will void Nolasco's contract. Just something that will recoup losses for extended time on the DL

  5. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
    Great take! I can't be quite as forgiving of the Twins, though. There is a thin line and I think the Twins have missed the mark, for whatever reason, too often. I think losing changes things, too.
    I'm not forgiving the Twins per se, I just think this is the way elite athletics work.

    I definitely concur with your last line. This type of stuff is blown out of proportion when the team sucks.
    Papers...business papers.

  6. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sconnie View Post
    1) Very well written, well articulated, article. Thank you
    2) I don't think this issue is a Gardy issue as much as it is MLB/MiLB and professional sports in general. Players of all sports are under immense pressure to perform.
    3) That doesn't excuse the Twins FO and Manager. The "whistleblower" for those of us in the corporate world is the comparable. Progressive and successful organizations welcome and promote the open communication culture. Conversely the majority of organizations do not and end up being forced to get with the times.
    I would suspect your #3 point applies to 0 professional teams in regards to this specific scenario. The Twins actually strike me as conservative/cautious in regards to playing with injuries relative to other teams. Part of the reason athletes make it to the majors is the mentality that if they don't play someone will take their place, or they will go to the minors, or something else will happen. That is probably how they get to where they are.

    I think the idea of open communication is critical on certain issues, but the gray area of pitching with a sore elbow vs. injured elbow is lower on the list.
    Papers...business papers.

  7. #46
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    I agree with the general sentiment of the article--that managers and especially trainers need to be receptive to their players telling them about soreness or early signs of an injury, and teams should work to create a culture where players volunteer this information without fear of not looking macho.

    However, I just don't think this test case applies. As the article states, it took some coaxing to get Nolasco to open up. I'm much more concerned it went down like this:
    "C'mon, Ricky, look at the way you've been pitching lately. Something must be wrong."
    "No, Coach, I feel fine."
    "Ricky, think about it. These aren't the results we want from a major league starter. The results you're showing are more like a bullpen pitcher. But if that's because of injury, well, I don't see any need to move you to the bullpen--we can put you on the DL, let you recover from whatever the problem is, work on your mechanics in the minors, and then you can come back and start for us again when you can pitch like a major leaguer. What do you say?"
    "Oh, I see. Well, Coach, now that you mention it, my arm is a little sore..."

    Than like this:
    "Ricky, I know I've told you I expect you to go out there every five days, no matter how you feel, but now I'm curious how you feel."
    "Uh... N-no problems, Coach. I, uh, I feel fine."
    "You sure about that? I don't normally want to hear it if you think you're hurt, but right now, I want you to open up with me."
    "But Coach, when I tried to talk to you earlier this year, you told me to grind it out."
    "Well, I guess I've had a change of heart. I don't want to hear it if it's minor, but now I'm curious if it's bigger than that."
    "That's a relief, Coach. Because my arm's been sore since Spring Training and I think it might be serious, but I've been keeping it to myself because you told us not to talk about injuries."

    I admit it could've gone down on either end of the spectrum or any which way in between. But from the facts as we know them, the former seems more likely than the latter, and is also the scenario I'm much more worried about.

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  9. #47
    Such a #hotsportstake that the editor had to make sure to get the first comment to raise his finger and say "before you say anything, let me just say..."

    But at the same time, I'm not even sure what the post is trying to say. Are the players too soft or is Gardy too hard?

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  11. #48
    Senior Member All-Star LaBombo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
    Nolasco is a highly paid professional. It is a part of a pro athlete's job to know his body and to make the right decisions for him and his team. If he was dealing with an injury or soreness that was impeding his performance, it's his job to make the coaches and training staff aware of it.

    I've seen a lot of talk about "injury culture" here and elsewhere, and it mostly strikes me as reactionary frustration with a team that just has a lot of things going wrong. As drjim astutely pointed out, this is the same kind of stuff teams across the league face, because athletes are trained over their lifetimes to tough it out and play through pain when they can.
    It would be equally exasperating to have your siding with management painted as knee-jerk defense of the organization, would it not?

    The argument that responsibility for whether injuries are reported or not has little or nothing to do with team policy, corporate culture, and/or management/staff handling of player relations strikes me as extraordinarily improbable.

    Eventually, this issue will sort itself out, without regard for many of the variables that are part of the equation:

    Michael Corleohlad: Our baseball team loses. A lot. Maybe we can do better.

    Moe St. Greeter: You think I'm skimming off the top of player health?

    Corleohlad: You're unlucky...

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  13. #49
    Senior Member All-Star crarko's Avatar
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    Neither the injury culture nor the blame-placing culture seems very appealing.

    Good thing there are other options. Like Cargo Cults.
    Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand. - N. Armstrong

  14. #50
    Senior Member All-Star LaBombo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crarko View Post

    Good thing there are other options. Like Cargo Cults.
    Can't buy into that. Maybe it's where I'm Frum.

    But cargo pants, well, that's still debatable. Barely.

  15. #51
    Senior Member Triple-A DocBauer's Avatar
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    I completely appreciate every thought and sentiment from the original article. I do feel some of the commentary and speculation arises from simple frustration. I also greatly appreciate the even-handed ness in these follow up opinions.

    Thank you John for setting the tone.

    Echoing what's already been said, in any sport, whether the rough and tumble world of weekly football, or the longer, less physical, but very grueling sports such as basketball and baseball, nobody is ever 100% healthy after a point. And I concur with Gardy's initial comments. Of course, if one wishes, they can be taken out of context and blow up. But every bump and soreness is indeed not an injury, and shouldn't preclude mass concern from a coach/manager.

    And Gardy, like Kelly before him, likes to give days off to guys, likes to use his whole roster, in order to keep everyone sharp, involved, and as healthy as possible over the course of a season. In fact, I have often heard him in pre-games even comment about giving guys days off due to soreness and the such to keep them fresh.

    I certainly hope Nolasco's soreness is not a precursor to something more serious! But I am pleased in a bizarre way to hear of his injury. It helps explain his poor start this season vs spending big money on a FA SP who just loses his stuff, or command, or who just doesn't fit with a team or league.

    That being said, Nolasco did have a responsibility for saying something sooner. There is a difference from playing not 100%, and playing injured. We often attack athletes, at different times and for different reasons, for the tremendous money they make, and making excuses for poor play, or poor decisions. But despite the money involved, at the end of the day, almost every high level athlete, pro or college, is a competitor. And not being out there kills, and they will do most anything to avoid sitting. Twins, Vikings, Cornhuskers, even teams I am not a fan of, I have heard countless reports of players who tried to play through injuries, tried to hide said injuries, and only came fully truthful when it finally became blatantly obvious. So this is no Twins issue, just part of the culture of sports and competitors.

    I never played above a high school level, but have known college athletes who will echo this sentiment universally. Even waaaaaay back when in my HS days, I participated hurt, and was reluctant to tell a coach or trainer if hurting. I even had a teammate confide in me once not to tell the coaches he had been hit so hard that he suddenly forgot the score, the play book, and the first half. Now, despite his imploring not to tell anyone, I had to protect my teammate so I did inform someone. Now, there is a huge chasm from high school football to pro athletics, but I think the thought process of the competitive athlete permeates all levels.

    Im not angry at Nolasco, wish him the best, hope he will be OK, and will kick butt for the next 3 1/2 years for the Twins. But really, he should have said something sooner.
    "Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."
    --Lou Brown

  16. #52
    Senior Member Big-Leaguer gil4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twins Twerp View Post
    Guys are sore everyday. Hell I woke up sore this morning from watching the Twins game at an odd angle last night.
    So are you going to be on the 15-day day-to-day list or the 60 day day-to-day list?

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  18. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
    Concur. I also note that, much like financial advisors tell you to "ladder" timed financial investments such as CDs, currently the pitching staff happens to be set up now so that one contract each year will expire. It's not implausible that when Correia moves on, another 4-year contract will be offered to someone else - especially when you note that to get good pitchers you have to offer the multi-year deals. Nothing's been said, and this flexibility may end up being used to lock up young talent like Meyer when the time comes rather than a free agent, but I still find it an interesting combination at the moment, Correia-> Pelfrey -> Hughes -> Nolasco.
    This is a fantastic point. Hadn't noticed that.

  19. #54
    Berardino’s article says explicitly that only after some coaxing could the Twins brass get Nolasco to admit his arm has been tight since spring training and that he hasn’t been right all year.
    So the Twins had to drag it out of him that he is hurt yet they have a culture that encourages players to play hurt?
    Doesn't add up. Seems more like Nolasco was ignoring the issue. Perhaps he didn't think it was serious and would go away or he wanted to tough it out, either way I find it difficult to come to the conclusion that this injury not being discovered sooner is related to how the Twins do business.
    The funny thing is, most people want to blame the Twins for being too soft with players every time Mauer gets hurt. Guess it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't sort of thing with fans.

  20. #55
    Speediest Moderator All-Star snepp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gil4 View Post
    So are you going to be on the 15-day day-to-day list or the 60 day day-to-day list?
    And when is TJ scheduled?
    "Maybe you could go grab a bat and ball… and learn something. Maybe you will get it."
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  22. #56
    The King In The North All-Star Nick Nelson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
    It would be equally exasperating to have your siding with management painted as knee-jerk defense of the organization, would it not?
    I'm not siding with anyone. Facts are facts. A player had soreness that he chose not to reveal to anyone for several months. Is the argument that he did so because of the "culture" in an organization that he's been part of for eight months?

    In order to convince me that this is anything out of the ordinary, you'd have to somehow show me that the same thing doesn't happen with most other teams throughout the league. I think it does.

    I would probably agree that Gardenhire too often expects his guys to play through pain, tough it out, not complain. But that's a problem with baseball culture, and maybe just pro sports culture -- not Minnesota Twins culture. If you can give me some compelling evidence to the contrary, I'm all ears.

  23. #57
    Owner MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    What a great article. I've long thought that this was a problem in sports, not just the Twins.

    Should Michael Jordan have played through injury when he's 80% healthy? Maybe, because 80% of Michael Jordan is a whole lot better than whoever would replace him and the Bulls wouldn't win without Jordan on the court.

    On the other hand, how long does playing through an injury extend that injury? Is it worth playing Michael Jordan at 80% for an entire season when you could sit him for ten days and get a 100% Michael Jordan for the remainder of the season?

    Now apply that thinking to decent players like Ricky Nolasco. An 80% Ricky Nolasco is not a good pitcher because a 100% Ricky Nolasco is only a decent pitcher. The moment a guy like that has an issue, you sit him because not only is he going to be ineffective, he's probably going to be ineffective for a long time because he never properly heals from his injury. It's the responsibility of the player to voice these concerns and it's the responsibility of the organization to respond accordingly.

    So, essentially, we've been dealing with an 80% Ricky Nolasco for half a season and he's been absolutely terrible.

    I don't know if this is Gardy's fault or Nolasco's fault and it doesn't matter, really. Both athletes and organizations need to move on from this ridiculous "rub some dirt on it and walk it off" attitude and do what's best for the team and most of the time that involves benching a player who isn't at 100% because he's not only hurting you in the short-term, he's going to hurt you in the long-term as it's going to be harder for him to get healthy and play the rest of the season at 100%.

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  25. #58
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    At the end of the day, the focus should be on getting Nolasco's elbow back to normal because it is really years 3 and 4 of the contract that are most important for the future of the Twins. Even though I'm a huge homer, love the Twins, and saw some positive strides earlier this year, they aren't ready to contend and they will need a healthy Nolasco in 2016 and 2017 when they once again contending (and hopefully 2015).

  26. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
    Now apply that thinking to decent players like Ricky Nolasco. An 80% Ricky Nolasco is not a good pitcher because a 100% Ricky Nolasco is only a decent pitcher. The moment a guy like that has an issue, you sit him because not only is he going to be ineffective, he's probably going to be ineffective for a long time because he never properly heals from his injury.
    Agreed with your entire post, and I will add: a problem here is that Nolasco (and most pro athletes) rarely believe they are only "decent" performers when healthy. They generally have pretty big egos in this regard (and they arguably have to, to make it to this level and stick).

    I guess that makes it more important for coaches and GMs to be extra vigilant when monitoring these players for signs of potential injury (or at least equally vigilant as the real superstars -- in the case of the superstars, they want to protect their investment and peformance, but in the case of the Nolasco's of the world, they mainly want to avoid extended subpar performance).

    I wonder what that protocol is, for the Twins? Pelfrey's notable drop in velocity was discussed here at TD for at least several starts this season before the Twins did anything (actually, it was reported that Pelfrey took the initiative at that point and approached the team). Nolasco's velocity was down on Sunday but I don't think that had been the case in previous starts. I wonder if someone is looking for quantitative signs in this area, and pushing that info to players and coaches for more qualitative investigation?

  27. #60
    Owner MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
    Agreed with your entire post, and I will add: a problem here is that Nolasco (and most pro athletes) rarely believe they are only "decent" performers when healthy. They generally have pretty big egos in this regard (and they arguably have to, to make it to this level and stick).

    I guess that makes it more important for coaches and GMs to be extra vigilant when monitoring these players for signs of potential injury (or at least equally vigilant as the real superstars -- in the case of the superstars, they want to protect their investment and peformance, but in the case of the Nolasco's of the world, they mainly want to avoid extended subpar performance).

    I wonder what that protocol is, for the Twins? Pelfrey's notable drop in velocity was discussed here at TD for at least several starts this season before the Twins did anything (actually, it was reported that Pelfrey took the initiative at that point and approached the team). Nolasco's velocity was down on Sunday but I don't think that had been the case in previous starts. I wonder if someone is looking for quantitative signs in this area, and pushing that info to players and coaches for more qualitative investigation?
    Yep. It's up to the player to say something. If a player is injured and doesn't say something about it, he should get his ass chewed by the manager. On the other hand, if a player is so block-headed that he refuses to say he's injured, it's the organization's role to start probing into why that established player is performing so poorly.

    But overall, teams need to start treating injury reports positively and the hiding of injuries negatively. Do the Twins do that? I don't know - honestly, I doubt it - but in all fairness, I think that's true of the vast majority of sports organizations.

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