Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Follow-Up Question Not Asked

Yesterday Jim Riggleman was asked about Ross Detwiler's hip surgery, and he said:
"My understanding is, this is the first time he ever said a word about it. When Detwiler said it, it was news to us," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "So they went and checked it out. I'm guessing... but I think he probably has been feeling something for a while and thought, 'Well, I'm all right.' As athletes you just figure, 'Oh, this is nothing; I'll get through this.' And it probably was nagging, and when he got here and it was still nagging. And then he went into the trainer and said, 'This doesn't feel good.' And it was a fairly serious problem, and it had to be alleviated. Obviously if he had said in October or November that my hip hurts, it would have been checked out.
So, to sum up, it's Detwiler's fault, and the team isn't responsible, and it's Detwiler's fault.

Here's the key question: "Isn't it your responsibility as the manager to have a close enough relationship with your players that if something like this is happening, you know about it? Regardless of what else happened, if a player is hurting on your watch, and you don't know about it, isn't that an indictment of you as a manager? What went wrong with your relationship with Ross that you as the person responsible for the team weren't on top of this situation?"

24 comments:

(j)on said...

Disagree completely. The team relies on the player to communicate to the trainers their injury. Particularly something that happened before P&C reported. Riggleman wouldn't have been able to do anything then.
I think the issue is more on the player's psyche, being worried about labeled as "soft" so far as to not tell anyone when your leg is falling off.

Jaxpo Nat said...

OMG, Steven. Should Riggleman drive them home and tuck them into bed too? You're a good blogger, but the way you come down on every issue as being the team's or front office's fault is getting a little old. Think you are losing your objectivity a bit.

Anonymous said...

How about if a player hides an injury and then can't play the season, he just doesn't get paid? I realize that they're playing a kids game, but perhaps they should be required to grow up and be responsible for their actions.

Hendo said...

You're kidding, right? Channeling Olby, perhaps? Otherwise I give up.

Steven said...

Of course the player shares some responsibility. Maybe even most. But after Stammen, Zimmermann, Olsen, and now Detwiler--all hiding injuries, and Bruney saying that after his arb hearing when he said his honesty about injuries was used against him... you really don't even think this merits a follow up question?

Anonymous said...

This is almost as ridiculous as you blaming Riggleman for Zimmermann's injury. It's not his fault that Detwiler is hiding the injury because he is probably scared that he would lose a spot as a starter.

Steve said...

If Riggleman is creating (or even just maintaining) a tough-it-out/don't-ask-don't-tell atmosphere on injuries, it's definitely relevant if players are publicly blamed when injuries turn out to be severe.

Rob B said...

Why wouldn't a player report any possible injury, no matter how minor?
It's not like having a reputation for being 'injury-prone' could hurt them at salary arbitration or anything.....

(j)on said...

Rob,
I imagine DL stays would be used, but what I was talking about was making trainers aware, not necessarily asking to be DL'd or saying they can't play.

Anonymous said...

Steve - That's a gigantic "if" first of all. In fact Riggs' quote is saying that he believes in the opposite of toughing it out.

That said, you made a much more valid point than "shouldn't Riggleman have broken into Detwiler's house and read his diary so we can avoid situations like this?" This has become the Fox News/Drudge/MSNBC of blogs. It's much more interested in being inflammatory than informative.

Steven said...

@Steve--I would set the bar slightly higher than that. Basically, you're setting a "do no harm" standard. As long as he isn't pressuring the pitchers to do dumb things, then it's ok. I want a manager who goes beyond that and creates an environment and knows his guys well enough that he knows exactly what's going on in his shop. Great coaches like Phil Jackson or Mike Holmgren know their guys. They do that by building close relationships based on trust, so that their players feel safe sharing information that could hurt them. It's impossible to imagine Mike Holmgren publicly blaming a 23-year-old Brett Favre for not being fully open and honest with him. Never would have happened, because a) Holmgren knew it was his job to have that trust relationship, and b) calling the player out publicly is counterproductive to the trust in the first place.

(j)on said...

I think we're all going to have to agree to disagree. You believe the coach should be intimate enough with his players where he'll know always when they're hurt, even if they don't say. I, and other think, that no coach is a mind reader, and its a responsibility of the player and the MEDICAL staff to keep an eye on aches and pains before they turn into torn labrums.

Jaxpo Nat said...

LOL... I don't even know what to say. Apparently Steven wants the Mr. Roger's/Romper Room version of baseball. Keep this up and your blog will become a joke. Maybe you should start asking yourself what Riggleman/Rizzo/Kasten/Lerner are doing that is REALLY THAT MUCH different than other clubs. Do you think Girardi or Francona invite Sabathia and Beckett over to dinner. Do you think Bobby Cox or Charlie Manuel schedule their day around their AAA pitchers who have a shot to make it as the 5th starter? Wake up Steven, or else don't waste all of our time by continuing this blog.

Anonymous said...

This is how a grown man handles himself:
(Sean Burnett, on losing his arbitration hearing) "I lost. That's pretty much the gist of it," Burnett said Saturday. "You know it's going to be rough. It's going to be uncomfortable for two, three hours or whatever it's going to be. It's not the end of the world. It didn't get as ugly as I thought it would. I've heard stories where the players had nightmares. I didn't win. That's the bottom line."

Enough said. Bruney does not handle himself like a professional. Period.

Steven said...

Jon--you're missing.a key point about the medical staff. They work for the team, not the players. There's no difference between telling the trainer about your achy shoulder and telling the GM or the owner. There is no medical privacy, I've always thought that it would help a lot if the trainers worked for the union, so that a player could share every possible concern with the medical staff without it getting back to the people who may or may not tender him a contract for the following season.

Nats Fanatic said...

Steven

I think you're a little unrealistic here. I think I know what you're trying to say, but your going a little too far. These aren't veteran players who have been around, we're talking about guys like Zimmermann, Olsen, Stammen, Balester, Detwiler etc etc. These guys aren't people who he's built a relationship with because most of them are still trying to prove themselves. They see a good opportunity here and want to keep quiet and pitch through pain because, to be quite frank, save Zimmermann (and I want to see him do it for a sustained amount of time) they aren't that good. These types of pitchers might keep quiet and pitch through small minor pain because of the fear of losing their opportunity. Let's not just start bashing the guy, the team sucked last year. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt to improve this team to our standards this year, and then go from there.

Steven said...

Sure, that's fine. It's not like I said I think Riggles should be fired of something. I proposed a good, challenging follow up question that I would like to hear asked.

Anonymous said...

No, it's actually a terrible, irrelevant question.

I love the Holmgren/Favre comparison, by the way. Three observations: this is not football; Riggleman is not Holmgren; and Detwiler is not Favre. Let's just hope that Riggleman can suss it out if Detwiler becomes addicted to vicodin. That's what good managers do, right?

Anonymous said...

for anybody looking for a logical POV on the matter:

http://nats320.blogspot.com/2010/02/just-speak-up.html

Anonymous said...

"Lowrie thought he could push through the ailment, and he kept the injury to himself.

Lowrie started the season 1 for 18, and the pain worsened, the symptoms identical to last year. He remained quiet about the injury with the team and media until Sunday, when he informed manager Terry Francona. The next day, the Red Sox placed Lowrie on the 15-day disabled list. Lowrie believes the injury explains his slow start."

"He kept the injury to himself and two years later doctors discovered the arm had been badly broken and subsequently healed poorly"

"Mr. Woods stoically kept the injury to himself for nearly 10 months, and went on to win the U.S. Open despite having compounded the injury"

"Phillies assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said the left-hander may have kept the injury to himself for a little while."

Steven said...

Let's just hope that Riggleman can suss it out if Detwiler becomes addicted to vicodin. That's what good managers do, right?

Yes, of course--as well as coaches, team medical staff and key front office personnel. But the manager would certainly be one of the first people who should be in tune enough attention to catch the signs of injury or addiction. And I'm sure that Riggleman would be the first to agree with that.

This contemporaneous Peter King article about Favre's injuries, pain-killer use, and the intervention of coaches is perhaps a good read for folks on this topic:

"Favre said he believed he was hiding his addiction well, but Tynes, then-Packers quarterbacks coach Steve Mariucci, and best friends and teammates Mark Chmura and Frank Winters sensed late in the season that he had a serious problem. Mariucci even told the Green Bay training staff to monitor Favre's Vicodin use."

Anonymous said...

This is just stupid.

Nats Fanatic said...

And all the people who are being a little disrespectful, such as Jaxpo Nat and others, should really try to calm down. Let's discuss these issues respectfully. I respect the fact that Steven runs this blog and has stayed on top of the issues for all of us. If you disagree, then disagree. But let's try to keep some of the childish banter out of it.

Anonymous said...

"When the Cubs drafted [Kerry] Wood, they knew he had a ligament issue in his right elbow, but he was so good, they had to draft him anyway and hope for the best."

"The day Wood reported, he wore a protective sleeve on his right elbow -- not a good sign."

"The criticism I received," Riggleman said, "was taking him [out] too early in games."

Read it for yourself at sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2010/columns/story?columnist=kurkjian_tim&id=4934071

Maybe it's easy to blame Riggleman for Kerry Woods' elbow issues, but his health was suspect even before he got to the bigs. Maybe it wasn't his fault after all.