30 July 2007

Injury skepticism or, if you lie to me, why should I trust you?

By Griffster

The Dodgers' season is going to pivot on Lowe and Penny being healthy, not on any trade deadline move. ( Could the trade deadline please just GO already? I fear a dumb move. I have Lugo-itis when it comes to thinking about Colletti and the trade deadline. Not even the Maddux-for-Izturis flip can cure Lugo-itis. )

If Lowe and Penny is OK, the Dodgers should be OK too.

But, I'm rather worried that they are not OK. The Dodgers have a history of hushing up injuries and trying to force players to play through injuries. We have a hobbled Furcal thanks to Repko and his kamikaze approach to fielding. When Repko climbed the outfield wall and bummed up his ankle he got the year off. But Furcal does not get the time he needs to heal himself. Maybe we could have ridden Valdez' hot streak a little longer and have Furcal healed a little better. Maybe not. I do not know a whole lot about ankle sprains, except that I needed time off my feet to heal the sprains I've had.

Did Conte's arrival change any of this painful approach to injuries? We will have to wait and see. There isn't enough information yet. The Dodgers have, to this point, only lost injury-prone pitchers. Schmidt, Kuo and Wolf is probably not Conte's fault. They landed in his lap with their injury futures already scripted by past damage to their bodies. Ditto Tsao.

On the other hand Penny's "cramp" already turned into a "strain". A position player with a mild strain will be OK and can try to sneak through it. He doesn't take more than a dozen or so swings a game. If he is Nomar, he probably only takes as many swings as he sees first strikes! But a starting pitcher? He torques his body 100 times a game not counting warm-up pitches. A pitcher really does need to be OK.

I hope Lowe is right about it when he says he'll be fine. Let's see him throw off a mound. And then let's hope he doesn't say it is fine when it feels like there's fire shooting through his groin. I will only believe Lowe is fine when I see him pitch six or seven innings in a game. I've learned not to believe players or managers when they say a player will be fine. The guys are much too fond of trying to play through injuries to make their words credible.

Let's have a quick look at Lowe's starts:

APR 02 4.0 8 6

APR 07 7.0 4 1

APR 13 8.0 7 1

APR 18 4.2 8 4

APR 24 7.0 9 3

APR 29 6.1 8 4

MAY 05 7.0 3 0
MAY 10 8.1 5 2

MAY 15 5.1 8 4

MAY 20 8.0 9 3

MAY 25 6.0 4 1

MAY 30 7.0 3 0

JUN 04 7.2 3 4

JUN 09 9.0 4 1

JUN 15 7.0 4 1

JUN 22 6.2 5 3

JUN 27 6.2 5 1

JUL 02 5.0 8 1

JUL 07 6.1 10 4

JUL 14 6.0 8 1

JUL 19 3.0 10 8

JUL 22 1.0 0 0

JUL 25 4.0 4 1

Lowe tends to go deep into games. We all know that. In April he was brought up short twice - on Opening Day, which is somewhat of a trend in itself for him, and also on the 18th. That was at Coors Field, though, and Lowe is on record as saying that Coors Field and him does not mix well.

In May Lowe had one token bad game against the Cardinals. That his bad game ( in terms of innings pitched ) is a pretty good game for Penny, Wolf or Bills when he makes an even-numbered start says something in itself.

In June Lowe started off strong, then suddenly dropped down to where he couldn't get through the sixth inning anymore - and he haven't since. Looking at past years, he was still hitting innings 7, 8 or 9 in the months following June.

Now, I'm not saying that Lowe picked up a niggle in June and has been forcing it ever since. It is a long season, and he may simply be tiring a little. Still, think about that when you read the meant-to-be-reassuring reports from the front office about how all manner of things is well.

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