Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ricky Nolasco and pitching hurt

Ricky Nolasco's numbers
say he's been the worst
regular starter in the majors.
After Sunday's Nolasco fiasco, Ron Gardenhire insisted that Ricky Nolasco was not injured.

Before Monday night's game in Seattle, the Twins announced that their $47 million pitcher was returning to Minnesota to get an MRI on his right elbow, which has apparently been bothering him all season.

This development was predicable. I gave a few reasons in Monday's post to suspect that Nolasco was hurt -- a decline in velocity, an avoidance of breaking balls -- and just from a performance standpoint, one had to wonder.

I am not surprised that Nolasco continued to take the mound with pain. Nor am I surprised that he waited to reveal the issue until it was obvious he was going to be pulled from the rotation. Any pitcher with 1,300 major-league innings (which Nolasco had on his resume when he signed his four-year deal with the Twins) can be presumed to have some kind of arm damage. Nolasco is getting the big money because he has a track record of eating innings. He's going to get the $47 million even if he blows the elbow out; as long as the Twins think pitching him will help the team, he's going to take the ball.

There might be room to wonder why the Twins didn't more actively question Nolasco's health as the season progressed. A Ron Gardenhire quote tweeted by Mike Berardino suggested a passive approach to monitoring player health:

Maybe Nolasco was asked and denied any injury -- in which case, what can anybody else do? Can't DL a guy who says he's not hurt. It finally got to the point where Gardenhire decided pitching Nolasco does more harm to the team than good, and then Nolasco fessed up.

Gardenhire reasonably relies on players to know, and to admit, when their bodies can't handle the task. It appears that the fans (and some in the media) deploy a double standard: Rip the player who says he can't go, rip the player who tries to play hurt and fails.


A couple minor league notes:

* Trevor May has indeed been scratched from the Futures Game, as LaVelle Neal predicted Sunday. Alex Meyer has been named to the USA team in his stead.

Inasmuch as the Futures Game is intended to feature the best prospects, regardless of how close to the majors they are or the comparative quality of their season stats to date, Meyer is a better match for the spirit of the game. May is more likely to pitch in the majors this year; Meyer is the better prospect.

*Miguel Sano was cleared this weekend to begin throwing, a necessary milestone in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe Nolasco can share a post-op room with Arroyo and swap stories about recovering from TJ surgery.