After I wrote the title to this post, I realized that this may be the only time ever that Billy Sadler and Josh Hamilton are ever written about in the same article. It definitely is late September...
Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus' injury guru, deigned himself to write about an Astro in his "under the knife" article yesterday. Billy Sadler isn't exactly an Astro, per se, but he was at one point albeit briefly. The uniqueness of his injury is why Carroll took note of Sadler's shoulder. He links to a website that is maintained by Astros team doctor David Lintner. The linked article describes Sadler's injury as a SICK Scapula. I am nowhere near qualified to type one word about the medical condition of an athlete, so you can go ahead and read the article for yourself. The website as a whole is also really cool in that it's Astro centric, and sort of ahead of the curve in it's focus on injuries sustained by pitchers. As Carroll puts it:
People laughed when Tampa Bay made a commitment to health, won the Dick Martin Award, and then saw that commitment help catapult them to the World Series. Teams that have focused on player health—the Brewers, Rays, White Sox, and Indians—have all seen payoffs in the form of playoff appearances. (I bet the Pirates hope that indicator is a true one.) So while Sadler isn't an important injury in the grand scheme, what the medical staff in Houston is doing might save someone down the line, even if they're not an Astro.
Up I-45, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News thinks that Josh Hamilton should make a go of it in what will be the most important series in their season. As he puts it:
But what's he risking? Just 17 games remain, and he's got an off-season to recover. When Hamilton says he can't play, he doesn't complain about pain in his back. He says it's because of pain sure to come.
He goes on further to argue that since it appears that injuries will always follow Hamilton around, he should tape himself up and grit it out like Mickey Mantle used to for the Yankees. Next, he points out that the respect that Hamilton would earn should be a boon for clubhouse chemistry for the Rangers. I don't like these arguments, first of all. Sherrington should come on down to Houston and hang out with Cecil Cooper for a while and see how he handles our pitchers. I think they would become fast pals. Second, Mickey Mantle didn't have access to the sort of information and care that Hamilton has within reach here in the 21st century. With players wearing uniforms until their late 30s with regularity, Sherrington probably shouldn't sell Hamilton short by pushing him in what is the longest of long shots to make the 2009 playoffs.
With a young nucleus like Texas has, 2010 and beyond is what the team should play for. Chone Figgins and Vlad Guerrero aren't long for the Angels, and Bobby Abreu is inked to only a one year contract. It's romantic and valiant to think of our athletes as warriors and heroes, but that isn't the case. Major leaguers are men with good hand eye coordination and/or the ability to throw a baseball 60'6" with precision and high velocity. Performing these tasks exacts a toll physically and it isn't wise to reason that just because a player always seems to have an injury hanging over his head, it's ok to push him to his limits because of it. My point is that Josh Hamilton isn't Mickey Mantle, and he doesn't have to battle the sort of career shortening injuries that the Mick had to. Easing Hamilton into his thirties would be a nice way to preserve him for the long haul. Going for broke with your team cornerstone's health hanging in the balance isn't a prudent plan.