Jarrod Saltalamacchia missed the final month of last season following surgery for Thoracic Outlet Sydrome, which causes neck and shoulder problems due to a rib pushing against a nerve. Now he’s headed to the disabled list again, but this time around upper back soreness is to blame.
Saltalamacchia injured his back Monday, presumably before delivering a walk-off single in the ninth inning, and initially tried to keep the pain to himself. He finally told the team last night, but not before taking a called third strike as a pinch-hitter.
Ron Washington isn’t happy:
He needs to mature. He has put us in a bad situation. What if he had walked last night and we tied the game? Was he going to tell me then that he couldn’t catch? I don’t care how badly he wants to play, you can’t just think about yourself. He was supposed to be healthy when we left spring training. That’s what he told us. I’m not disappointed in him for being hurt; that happens. I’m disappointed in how he has handled it.
Washington definitely has a point, although given how the past year or so has gone for Saltamacchia it’s tough to blame him too much for trying to play through another injury. He underwent an MRI exam this morning and a visit to a back specialist is also on the docket, but in the meantime Taylor Teagarden will get the bulk of the starts behind the plate for the Rangers and light-hitting veteran Matt Treanor will back him up after beginning the season at Triple-A.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.
According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.
It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.
Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.
Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.
Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.
The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.