Thursday, February 7, 2013

Anthony Swarzak's injury

Anthony Swarzak's
batting average allowed
with the Twins behind:
.260. With the Twins
ahead: .329.
When the Twins announced Wednesday that Anthony Swarzak had cracked two ribs during "non-baseball activity" around the time of Twinsfest, I had a pretty good idea of what had happened. If he'd gotten hurt during a workout, or even snow shoveling, they'd have been more open about it. "Non-baseball activity" is code for "immature behavior."

And sure enough, it didn't take long for Terry Ryan to say that Swarzak had gotten hurt wrestling with teammates at a post-Twinsfest party.

Swarzak's not the first player to get hurt that way, and he won't be the last. It's the kind of thing that happens when the room contains more testosterone than brains.

The word Wednesday had Swarzak out for a month, which suggests that he'll be ready to resume throwing a week or so after exhibition games begin. That leaves time, certainly, for him to get ready for a bullpen gig, but probably takes him out of the running for a rotation slot.

I always viewed that idea as a long shot anyway. Swarzak has been much more effective the past two seasons in relief than as a starter -- and, moreover, more effective in long relief/mopup innings than in his opportunities to pitch late in close games. The Twins have needed starters, they've given him chances, and he hasn't done anything with them. The Twins have needed middle relievers/setup men, they've given him chances, and he hasn't done anything with those either.

Swarzak is an incumbent, but an incumbent for low-leverage innings on the worst staff in the league. He shouldn't be secure in his position. Getting hurt in this manner probably counts against him.

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