We’ve made note of the events over the weekend a few times: the Diamondbacks’ Randall Delgado, almost certainly acting on orders from his manager or on the throw-at-guys culture of Dbacks brass, tossed a 95 m.p.h. fastball into Andrew McCutchen’s back on Saturday for no good reason at all. The next day McCutchen left the game with what was initially called an oblique strain. Now it has been determined to be a rib fracture. More specifically, an an avulsion fracture, which happens when bone and cartilage are strained to a pretty extreme degree, pulled away from ligaments and tendons.
Most of us aren’t doctors and none of us have examined McCutchen, so none of us know how it happened. But there was certainly a lot of anger being aimed at the Diamondbacks anew yesterday, with many convinced that the bush league HBP on Saturday caused the injury. This, from the Tribune-Review in Pittsburgh, is a pretty decent encapsulation of the sentiment I’ve seen:
I’m no doctor — that should be very obvious — but I spoke with a highly qualified one Monday night.
Dr. Bryson Lesniak is a UPMC orthopedic surgeon who used to work for the Miami Marlins. He ruled out the possibility that Randall Delgado’s pitch — the one that hit McCutchen squarely in the spine — caused the avulsion fracture in McCutchen’s 11th rib. But nobody thought that, anyway.
Here’s the important point: Lesniak did not rule out the idea that McCutchen’s mechanics were compromised the next day because of the after-shock of getting drilled.
That possibility just makes sense. You hurt one thing, you might favor something else, even if subconsciously.
I have thought the same thing. It just seems intuitive. Of course, a lot of things seem intuitive that are totally false. We simply can’t know and, to be honest, no medical professional is likely to come out and say “yes, this was caused by Delgado’s pitch.” It likely will never be known definitively and will likely remain firmly in the fan-lore and fan-sentiment arenas, not the medical one.
But can we agree on something? Can we agree that it’s totally possible to think that the Dbacks and Delgado acted awfully in throwing at McCutchen on Saturday regardless of the effect that HBP actually had? Indeed, if it did no damage whatsoever, can we agree it was a stupid, reckless and cowardly act that has no place in baseball and that, if Joe Torre weren’t asleep on the switch on this one that Delgado and/or Kirk Gibson would have been suspended or fined by now?
I hope we can agree on that.