Yankees GM Brian Cashman is putting a “laser focus” on his medical staff. But is that focus fully targeted on where it needs to be…
Yankees GM Brian Cashman wrapped a bow around the team’s 2019 season at his year-end press conference. Once again, he masterfully touched all the bases in what amounted to a Yankees State of the Union Address. (all 41 minutes can be seen here)
Of particular note, though, are the comments made by Cashman (7:00-8:07 in the video), referencing not only the amount of trips Yankees made to the Injured List (30) but the repeated failure and delays during the rehab process that prohibited players from a timely return to action.
Severino, for instance, began the season with that was termed “shoulder inflammation” that spiraled into an issue with his lat. Betances mirrored the same before suffering an Achilles tear that abruptly ended his season.
But the most bizarre of mysterious sequences occurred with Stanton, who at one point had “some type” of a shoulder injury that even Aaron Boone couldn’t define during a press conference.
The topper, of course, came when Stanton injured his knee while rehabbing, only to quickly damage the quadriceps of the same leg in the ALCS, forcing him out of action for good.
Yankees target “The Culprit”
The fact that the Yankees overcame these and other injuries did not escape Cashman. But clearly, his tone was one of indignation in suggesting this cannot be the Yankees way in the future, and there is room for improvement in this area.
While Cashman dutifully refuses to name names, his inferences indicate heads will roll throughout the Yankees organization’s health and medical staff.
Coining the phrase CSI: The Bronx, Cashman is deliberate and persistent in pushing for laser focus on the problem.
But while Cashman is targeting the rehab process, the real issue might stem from other areas, such as attention paid to preventing the injury in the first place. Former Yankees trainer Lee Tressel offers this as analysis centering on post-game routines:
Which is all fine and dandy if we assume players have the time to devote to these treatments. There’s a jet waiting on the tarmac, reporters in the pressroom waiting for player appearances, texts from immediate family requiring an answer, and dinner reservations yet to be made.
When playing at home, the family takes precedence, and there’s the Halloween Costume Party your daughter is in or one of those rare date nights with your wife. Often, the best-laid plans…
CSI: The Bronx – A misdirected laser
That aside, if Cashman can crack the rehab process failure nut, he will make great strides for the Yankees. There are, however, impediments along the way, and they are all tied to human behavior during stressful times.
For any athlete, rehabbing from injury is not only stressful, but it can be tedious and mentally taxing. Some cope with it better than others.
One can only guess at the state of Jacoby Ellsbury‘s outlook after what is now thousands of rehab days – if he is doing his assigned rehab chores daily.
Short of putting an ankle bracelet to track their movements, and a heart monitor to track their “exertion levels” during a day, Brian Cashman and his staff are forced to rely on the player to do what must be done to return to action.
The Yankees complex in Tampa is where they like to keep their players during the rehab process.
They do so with a costly expense attached, providing an apartment or hotel for the player, and transportation to and from workouts. Per the Player’s Association Contract, players also receive $71 per day as meal money.
Yankees: Check out the human factor also…
So, in effect, it’s not only doctors, trainers, dieticians, physical therapists, and MRI machines involved in what the Yankees are attempting to accomplish. Instead, it’s more about people and their behavior.
Tackling the latter is beyond CSI. Like Cashman in not naming names, the Yankees might also want to include a “laser” into the behavior of their injured players – before and after they suffer an injury.
Consider that not everyone on that team is CC Sabathia, who underwent injury after injury and rehab after rehab until he reached the point where he had to be carried off the field by Yankees trainer, Steve Donohue.
If the Yankees look, I suspect they will find players who barely meet or fail the standards set by Sabathia. And if that’s the case, Brian Cashman has another and an entirely different set of problems to deal with…