The story goes something like this:
It’s the early 90’s, and somewhere near the Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training site in Clearwater, Florida, a woman with impressionable youngsters spotted then Phillies first baseman John Kruk looking significantly overweight, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. The woman reportedly approached Kruk and said, “You should be ashamed of yourself. You’re an athlete!” To which Kruk replied, “I ain’t an athlete, lady. I’m a baseball player.”
Despite apparently forgoing an off-season conditioning plan, John Kruk played 10 seasons in Major League Baseball, where he retired with a lifetime batting average of exactly .300. Kruk was also a 3-time All-Star and twice finished on the top-5 in the National League for batting average. Perhaps most surprising, the first major injury Kruk suffered was in 1994, near the end of his career, when an errant throw broke his cup, and the resulting injury revealed that he had testicular cancer, resulting in the removal of one testicle.
My point is, Major League Baseball used to have a lot of “John Kruk’s.” Guys who didn’t subscribe to year-round conditioning, didn’t always eat healthy and liked to have an adult beverage or three, after a ballgame, and yet, they always seemed to be in the lineup every day. A certain local guy who wore #14 and won two World Series rings with our Minnesota Twins comes to mind.
I bring it up because like you, I’m living and dying with the Twins this season, and the spate of injuries this team is dealing with, while trying to hold on to first place in the A.L. Central, is driving me crazy!
Consider that the Twins organization comes complete with six doctors on staff, a peak performance director, a director of strength & conditioning, a head athletic trainer, two assistant athletic trainers, a motion performance coach (OK, I don’t know what that is but I pledge to find out), a physical therapist and a major league dietitian. All that, and the current injury list has six players, including Pitcher Michael Pineda, who, of course was suspended for 60-games for taking a banned substance, and somebody by the name of Sean Poppen, who apparently pitched in four games this season before being placed on the 60-day injury list with an elbow contusion.
That list also includes Max Kepler, who’s dealing with a sore shoulder, Ahere Adrianza, who has a strained oblique muscle, Reliever Sam Dyson, who was apparently damaged goods when we acquired him from the Giants at the trade deadline and Center Fielder Byron Buxton, whose extensive injury history has been painfully documented, discussed and digested ad nauseam.
Not on that list is Marwin Gonzalez, the utility player who just came back after missing almost a month with a strained oblique, Outfielder Jake Cave, who’s working his way back from a strained groin, DH Nelson Cruz, who is playing with a ruptured tendon in his left wrist that may require surgery after the season and First Baseman C.J. Cron, who’s being held out to deal with a chronically sore thumb. Cron’s injury is described as a bone bruise that he’s been dealing with since July, and which has caused his numbers to drop significantly in the second half of the season.
My question is, to quote legendary Green Bay Packers Head Coach Vince Lombardi, “What the hell’s going on out here?”
I understand that injuries are a part of the game, and every team has to deal with them, but the Twins late-season rash seems especially cruel in light of the wonderful year the team has managed to produce up to this point.
Especially frustrating are the oblique injuries suffered by Gonzalez and now Adrianza, especially when you consider that both players were injured swinging the bat. I mean, that’s pretty much what baseball players do, right? Swing the bat.
How is it that guys like John Kruk, who basically looked like any guy you could find in a week night work bowling league, were in the lineup every day, but these guys who look like they could sell a lot of calendars wearing swimsuits, can’t stay healthy?
I’m calling on the Twins extensive support staff to pull out every trick in the book to get and keep these players in the lineup, down the stretch! And yes, I’m looking at you motion performance coach…