Baseball Psychology

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In this morning’s recaps I made light of Steve Simmons criticizing Roy Halladay’s mental toughness, making an offhand remark about “pop psychology.”  That, combined with my “swagger” post from last week may create the impression that I don’t think the psychological part of the game is important.  Not true. I think it’s really important. I just think that writers tend to attribute far too much of what happens on a baseball diamond to psychological stuff when physical success or failure, support of one’s teammates, or chance has so much more to do with it. It’s more fun to write about things like mental toughness, however, because there are only so many ways to say that the Jays aren’t scoring runs for Roy Halladay.

But as this article profiling players’ use of sports psychologists shows, the psychological part of the game is very real and very important.  And even if you’re not into this kind of thing, it contains a Bob Tewksbury sighting, and who doesn’t like Bob Tewksbury?

Jason Vargas fractured his non-pitching hand

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Mets left-hander Jason Vargas has a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand, the team announced Sunday. Vargas sustained the injury after taking a comebacker off of his hand on Friday and is expected to consult with a hand specialist later today as the team settles on a course of action. Comments from GM Sandy Alderson indicate that surgery is a possibility, though the left-hander may also pitch through it for the time being.

Vargas, 35, signed a two-year, $16 million pact with the team last month. He completed a four-year run with the Royals in 2017, earning his first career All-Star nomination with an 18-11 record in 32 starts and producing a 4.16 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 6.7 SO/9 over 179 2/3 innings. Prior to the incident, the southpaw was expected to help fill out the back end of the Mets’ Opening Day rotation.

Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News estimates that Vargas will likely miss the start of the season as he faces a two- to six-week recovery period. It’s a disappointing turn of events for a pitching staff that has been absolutely ravaged by injuries over the last couple of years.