That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Calling All Doctors: Why so many pitchers on the disabled list?

photo by mearsonlineauctions.com: Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal had completed 244 games in his MLB career with the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers in the 60s and early 70s

Calling All Doctors: Why so many pitchers on the disabled list?

By Amaury Pi Gonzalez

OAKLAND–During the first seven weeks of the season the Oakland Athletics had five starters on the disabled list. Kendall Graveman was out ten days with right shoulder strain, their #1 starter Sonny Gray missed the whole month of April with right shoulder strain, lefty Sean Manaea missed 16 days with left shoulder strain, Daniel Mengden was also on the DL to start the season after right foot surgery and Chris Bassit is out recovering with Tommy John surgery. The Los Angeles Angels have lost their ace Garrett Richards for the whole season, after opting last year for a stem cell treatment instead of the Tommy John surgery, also Tyler Skaggs is out, Nick Tropeano, Andrew Heaney, closer Huston Street, and it goes on and on and on like the movie Titanic.

Up in Seattle, the Mariners currently have their first four starters on the DL. Their ace Félix Hernández still our since April 28, shoulder inflammation(he has pitched many innings inn his career and he is not the same pitcher anymore), HIsashi Iwakuma could comeback soon, but he still out. Lefties Drew Smily has yet to pitch this season with a flexor strain and James Paxton is also out with a forearm strain.

The New York Mets ace Noah Syndergard is out with a partially torn lat muscle, and he recently said he has no clue when he will be able to return. Plus many more that I will not mention here.

Nutrition is better today, pitchers are stronger, throw harder. Is it their training? Is it weight lifting by some pitchers the culprit? We have a different culture for pitcher today, with some exceptions i.e. Justin Verlander and others can pitch way over 100 pitches per game and be fine, with the mentality in today’s game is to restrain a pitcher from throwing “too many”pitches. I remember the first time I interviewed Cuban-born pitcher Livan Hernández, when he came to the Giants; “yo nunca me preocupo por la cantidad de lanzamientos que tengo que hacer” trans “I never worry about the amount of pitches I have to make”.

There was a time when pitchers after ending the season traveled to winter leagues and pitch some more. Jim Bunning, Mike Fornieles,Luis Tiant and many more when to the Caribbean leagues and pitched in the winter, I remember those guys. Most of those guys will not even know what a flexor or lat is, they just pitched. Yes, there was a time when a reliever was the guy that was stuck in the bullpen because he was not good enough to start a game.

Today we have middle relievers, set up men and closers. In 2015 the Kansas City Royals won the World Series against the New York Mets and they used a reliever in each of the last three innings(they did that also consistently during the regular season) Gregg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis.

In 2016 Chris Sale with the Chicago White Sox(today with Boston) led the American League, with six(6)complete games, the whole season.

During Juan Marichal 16 year Hall of Fame career, he completed a total of 244 games, and in 1968 he alone completed 30 games during the season. Robin Roberts completed 305 games during his 19 years and Warren Spahn completed 382 games during a 21 year career, perhaps the best left hander in history. Yes, these three are Hall of Fame pitchers, but even those that were average pitchers could go 8 or 9 innings and even more at any given time. Those guys would laugh at the notion of their pitching coach telling them”give me six good innings today”. I remember asking Marichal(after he retired)one night during a game at cold Candlestick Park when he sat with me in the broadcast booth- Juan what would you have said to your pitching coach if he asked you prior to a game to “give me a good six innings” –he kind of smile and told me: “le perdería mucho respeto a ese hombre” trans: “I would lose a lot of respect for that man”. The frase “six quality innings” should be debated, because sometimes they call it quality when it os not really that, it is just the notion that the guy completed six innings!

We would be lucky today to get 30 games completed by a whole league.

You might have your own conclusion on why pitchers today pitch less and are hurt more often. I do believe today we have better athletes playing baseball, but back then we have better baseball players playing baseball.

Happy Memorial Day!

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Oakland A’s Spanish radio talent, the LA Angels TV talent, and does News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

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