A.J. Ellis’ wife gave birth in a car while he drove to hospital

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A.J. Ellis finally getting an extended chance in the majors at age 31 and emerging as the Dodgers’ starting catcher was a pretty good story, but Ellis’ wife giving birth to their third child tops it pretty easily.

Molly Knight of ESPN.com has the details:

On Oct. 12, Ellis’ wife, Cindy, gave birth to the couple’s third child in the front seat of their car on Interstate 43 South just outside Milwaukee. Ellis–who estimates he was traveling 75 mph down the highway in a futile attempt to make it to the hospital–didn’t even have a chance to pull the vehicle off to the side of the road before the baby arrived. …

“The doctor she likes is about 30 miles from our house,” said Ellis, who makes his home in Milwaukee in the offseason. “But with our other kids she was in labor for hours and hours, so we thought we had plenty of time.” …

She began screaming at her husband that she didn’t think they were going to make it to the hospital. “And I’m thinking, this is 2012, not the ‘Oregon Trail.’ Of course we’re gonna make it,” Ellis said. “So I’m calmly telling her we’re making it. I figured she was just panicking because she was in excruciating pain.”

Two weeks later mom and daughter are both doing well, and according to Ellis “the vehicle has since reacquired that new car smell” thanks to a trip to the car wash.

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.