Local columnist tells injured Twins to “suck it up and play”

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I’m told Ron Gardenhire spent part of today’s pregame media briefing angrily addressing Tom Powers’ column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Gardenhire ranted about it despite Powers not being in attendance, but after reading the column I can’t blame him.

Injuries have decimated the Twins, with Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and Kevin Slowey on the disabled list and Justin Morneau missing six straight games with a flu that has also hit nearly everyone on the roster.

Powers’ column is devoted to telling the injured players to “suck it up and play” because “we’re all sick of hearing about tweaks, strains and IV bags.”

Seriously. Here’s an excerpt:

You know what? This is getting ridiculous. Hey guys, just go play baseball. We’re all sick of hearing about tweaks, strains and IV bags. Suck it up and play! The Twins have to quit babying these guys. Either they can play or they can’t. And if they can’t, get somebody up here who can. The problem is that guys walk into Gardenhire’s office and tell him when they can play and when they can’t.

To me, that’s a case of overcommunication. Unless the trainer specifically says a certain player needs to sit out, Gardenhire should just make out his best lineup and expect his players to go out there and perform. He has pitchers telling him they can’t pitch and hitters telling him they could use a day off. It’s April, for God’s sake. It’s not September. This garbage started in spring training.

Powers makes a decent point about the Twins keeping injured players on the active roster rather than placing them on the DL, which is something they’ve done for years now. However, any logic gets completely lost in the “get of my lawn!” attitude of a veteran newspaper columnist accusing an entire team of sitting out games with injuries they should be playing through and criticizing a manager for not forcing them to play, as if that doesn’t just lead to poor performances and more injuries.

But wait, there’s more:

“We’ve got a bunch of guys sniffing and coughing up there,” Gardenhire said, nodding toward the clubhouse. Did Ted Williams ever sniff? Anyone ever hear Willie Mays cough? … The Twins’ approach to injuries can be summed up in three words: caution, caution, caution. How do you feel? Think you might play today? Want to give it a try?

Enough! Gardenhire needs to do what Vince Lombardi used to do as coach of the Green Bay Packers. Just barge into the trainer’s room, tip a couple of tables over and order everybody out. As Lombardi would scream: “Nobody is injured here!” Then write their names into the lineup and refuse to take them out unless the medical staff advises otherwise.

Criticizing players missing time with a team-wide flu by writing “Did Ted Williams ever sniff? Anyone ever hear Willie Mays cough?” was almost enough to make me think the whole column was parody, except I’ve read enough of Powers over the years to know better. And really, an anecdote about Vince Lombardi screaming at injured football players 40 years ago? I’m sure Ron Gardenhire taking that same approach would go over really well in the Twins’ clubhouse and, obviously, knocking over tables will fix everything.

I’m ashamed of myself for even giving Powers’ column attention and clicks, but not nearly as ashamed as a veteran journalist with a prominent local platform and a large audience should be for writing that cliche-filled, rabble-rousing drivel.

Koji Uehara has retired

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Jim Allen of Kyodo News reports that Koji Uehara has retired from baseball.

Uehara, 44, has spent the past two seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, which is the where he began his career way back in 1998. He spent eight years there as a starter, winning 20 games in his rookie season, then one year as a closer and one year in swingman duties before coming to the United States.

Once in the majors he pitched for four different major league teams over nine seasons — the Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox and Cubs — from 2009-2017. In that time he posted an excellent 2.66 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 572/78 K/BB ratio in 480.2 innings and notched 95 saves. He won a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2013 and was an All-Star in 2014. Uehara’s last big league stint in America with the Cubs in 2017, for whom he posted a 3.98 ERA (111 ERA+) in 49 games.

Happy trails to an excellent reliever.