As Jorge De La Rosa progresses in his comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery Thomas Harding of MLB.com revealed some interesting details about how the veteran left-hander pitched through the pain initially and lied to the Rockies about the injury.
Harding of course doesn’t frame the information that way, calling it merely “stretching the truth,” but you can judge for yourself:
“It was real cold that day in Pittsburgh, and I felt something in my arm,” said De La Rosa. “I said it was a blister and they took me out of the game. I told them I would be OK. But I was not. It was weakness. The next day, I felt pain when I woke up.”
De La Rosa toughed out eight more starts, until May 24 when his elbow went during a start against the D-backs at Coors Field. He tried telling Rockies manager Jim Tracy and head athletic trainer Keith Dugger that the problem was his groin, but this time no one was fooled. Shortly thereafter, De La Rosa underwent season-ending Tommy John ligament transfer surgery.
Athletes are constantly praised for playing through injuries and in this case De La Rosa somehow managed to continue pitching relatively well, but he also lied about a significant elbow problem and told the people paying him $10 million per season that it was a blister and then a groin injury.
Yet based on Harding’s article you’d almost think the lies were a positive thing, because he writes that De La Rosa is “no longer burdened with harboring a secret impossible to keep” and “now the Rockies are making sure the gritty attitude that led De La Rosa to hide his injury doesn’t work against him in his comeback.”
Well, that’s certainly one way to put it. He’ll make $10 million this season and is aiming to return in late May or early June.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.