Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Zimmerman's Surgery: Why Now?

I wasn't surprised to learn that Ryan Zimmerman's injury was lingering. Core muscle injuries (abs, obliques, etc.) tend to linger, and it's tough for a baseball player to do all the twisting motions involved in hitting and fielding until an injury like this is completely healed.

I wasn't, however, expecting to hear that Zimmerman needed surgery--not after three weeks on the DL and two months since the injury was first reported. (I won't repeat the details--Mark Zuckerman does a good job recounting the sequence of Zimmerman's injury here.)

I'm not a sports medicine expert, but the question has to be asked: why didn't Zimmerman get surgery immediately after the ab tear on April 9, which may have saved four weeks of missed time? And why wasn't he ordered to fully rest the injury when it first occurred during spring training, which might have prevented any DL stint at all?

Will Carroll--previously known as the injuries guy at Baseball Prospectus, now better knows as SI's less-attractive version of Stephania Bell--says the team is annoyed at Zimmerman for not being forthright with the team about the extent of the injury. And if Zimmerman hid the injury, they should be annoyed.

But this pattern--playing through pain, leading to a cascading injury, followed by a longer-than-expected DL stint, followed by surgery--isn't new for the Nationals (see: Cordero, Chad; Stammen, Craig; Zimmermann, Jordan).

I haven't seen anyone ask head trainer Lee Kunz, who has been with the team since 2007, why this injury was allowed to linger so long and why the surgery prognosis came so late. But it's a question that should be asked. Because if the botched handling of the Zimmerman injury turned a 2-week DL stint into three months, that's a big, big mistake.

Zimmerman's been a 7-WAR player over the last two seasons, and so this could be a 3-win error by the training staff. Since 3 wins above replacement costs about $12 million on the free agent market, that's a pretty expensive mis-diagnosis.


Positively Half St. said...

I wondered why it took so long for you to post this one. It is certainly a fair question, and I figured you'd be the one to ask it.


Ryan said...

If Will Carroll "reports" something, it's best to assume the complete opposite. Unless Pete Rose took a position with the Washington Grays while I wasn't paying attention.

TomL said...

The pattern includes about half of the nats roster, mock, marquis, etc etc etc

Basil said...

Playing through pain is a Nationals tradition that dates way back the very first season in Washington. See, e.g., Jose Guillen, Vinny Castilla. And it worked wonderfully!

IPLawguy said...

Add Detwiler to the list as well. And now LaRoche, the clean up hitter.

As I recall, Brian Schneider could also be on the team