Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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The Yankees are all alone again in first place in the American League East. At least for now. After giving up six home runs on Thursday to fall back into a tie for the division lead, the Yankees topped the Orioles 8-5 last night at Camden Yards.

The Yankees hit three home runs in the victory, including Alex Rodriguez’s 300th as a member of the Yankees and the 645th of his career. Wei-Yin Chen tied a career-high by giving up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. He allowed five runs in the fourth inning, including a three-run homer by Russell Martin and a two-run shot by Steve Pearce.

Phil Hughes yielded three runs (two earned) over six innings for his 14th victory of the season. Things got a little interesting when Adam Jones hit a three-run homer in the sixth, but the Yankees were able to avoid the disaster inning this time around. Robert Andino and Manny Machado later added solo homers, but it wasn’t enough. Oh, and Yankee-killer Mark Reynolds was finally held in check. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

The two teams will meet again tonight when C.C. Sabathia opposes Joe Saunders.

Your Friday box scores:

Cubs 12, Pirates 2

Rockies 2, Phillies 3

Rangers 1, Rays 3 (11 innings)

Marlins 9, Nationals 7 (10 innings)

Braves 3, Mets 0

Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 5

Royals 7, White Sox 5

Astros 5, Reds 3

Indians 7, Twins 6

Tigers 2, Angels 3

Brewers 5, Cardinals 4 (13 innings)

Diamondbacks 5, Padres 6

Athletics 6, Mariners 1

Dodgers 2, Giants 5

Cardinals encourage players not to hide injuries

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In Major League Baseball, players are routinely pressured to play through injury and pain. Sometimes it’s just a minor ache, and sometimes it’s a very serious injury. The pressure comes from everywhere: the players themselves, their peers, coaches, front offices, media, and fans. Players who develop a reputation for landing on the disabled list are described as “soft” and “fragile.” Players who battle through the pain get talked about as “gritty” and “dedicated.”

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are trying to encourage their players to be more honest about their health. The culture surrounding this is tough to change, but manager Mike Matheny wants his players to come to him if “anything that is off.” As Goold notes, Alex Reyes and Matt Bowman revealed they were, in Bowman’s words, not “entirely forthcoming.” Carlos Martinez said he pitched tentatively because he was “scared” of re-injuring himself. Matheny also called pitcher Michael Wacha “a great liar” when talking about his arm health.

Matt Carpenter has also played through injury and takes pride in it. He’s an example of the old mentality the club is trying to pierce through. Caarpenter said, “I’m a believer in if you’re getting paid to do a job and you’re capable of doing the job — even if it’s 85 percent of your best — I feel you have the obligation to be out there. That is the mentality I’ve always used. I could have very easily, at times last year, sat on the [disabled list], but I felt like I could still go out and do my job.”

Goold points out that players approach dealing with health issues differently depending on where they’re at in their careers. A young player who just got called up has pressure to stay in the big leagues and appear in games, so he may not want to address a health issue. A player who has already secured a multi-year contract may have less pressure on him and thus may be more willing to come to the trainer’s room.

I’ve long believed that player health will be the next arena in which front offices will separate themselves from the pack. Analytics had been that battleground for a while, but with every club now having an analytics department in some capacity, front offices will have to find value in new ways. Limiting the amount of time that players miss due to injury would be a significant boost for a team and it will start with players being forthcoming about what’s bothering them rather than trying to fight through pain.