Playing Through The Pain

June 8, 2009 – 12:30 pm

So now it’s coming to light that Mariano Rivera was actually rather sick when he got rocked in Saturday’s loss to Tampa Bay.  The story line is that Mo never makes excuses one way or the other, and that makes him the “ultimate professional”, or something like that.  Whatever.  This reminds me, though, of an issue that I have never quite understood when it comes to athletes and managers.  I can understand how an athlete always takes the attitude that he can play hurt and get the job done, regardless of the circumstances.  That’s the mentality it takes to be a professional athlete.  But the reality is that quite often there’s an alternative for the manager that is better than having that player playing hurt.  But that’s only possible if the manager knows exactly what is going on.  And that’s where we get in to this game of athlete’s not being 100% honest about their physical condition, knowing that if they are then they might get yanked from the lineup.  It’s a quandary and I’m not sure what the answer is.  You want the athlete to have this mentality — but at the same time you don’t want it continually costing you games.

You see this happen all the time.  Just recently Brian Bruney didn’t tell anyone that he was experiencing pain in his elbow, a fact that set his recovery back significantly.  He’s a key to the Yankee bullpen this year (in theory anyway!), so losing him for longer than expected certainly hurts the team.  Probably one of the more infamous examples of this, at least for the Yankees, was Carl Pavano who hid the fact that he got hurt in an automobile accident while he was trying to recover from other injuries.  Had he been honest about that, who knows how the Pavano story would have ended up?  Yeah, probably exactly the way it did, but you get the point.

You would think in this day and age of sports science that trainers and team physicians would have tools at their disposal that would keep most of this type of thing from happening.  Maybe they do, but the players and managers just ignore them a lot of the time?  Anyway, it’s a mystery to me as to why this type of thing continues to happen.  I guess it’s all just “part of the game”.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.