Thursday, June 09, 2005

Macho, Macho Men

While the M&M Boys have been nursing injuries lately, yesterday Torii Hunter, Ron Gardenhire and some anonymous wags murmured to the press some thinly veiled questions about the toughness of the younger guys. Torii rattled off a list of injuries and aches he's been feeling, adding, "It's just the mentality. Some people have to be 100 percent to play; some don't." He also told a Pioneer Press reporter, "some guys just need to suck it up and play." Gardy chimed in, "He's taken it upon himself to try to show some people how to play through injuries."

Strib beat writer La Velle Neal took the opportunity to let his readers in on the pregame ritual he shares with Torii, in which Torii complains about his aches and pains, Neal asks, "Why don't you take a day off?" And Hunter replies, "What?! Puhleeze!"

Joe Christensen added in his analysis feature for the Strib, titled "Outfielders still taking charge":
"So far, those two [Mauer and Morneau] have shown flashes of brilliance. But it's hard to lead a team when you are hurt, and both have been rather fragile... Perhaps most importantly, Stewart, Hunter and Jones had combined to miss eight games this season. Morneau and Mauer had combined to miss 29... the Twins privately questioned Morneau's toughness after this last injury, which is the result of a small bone spur in the elbow. And just when it seemed Mauer's knee was no longer an issue, the groin injury flared up once, subsided, then flared up again."

Clearly, there was a coordinated effort to call out the young stars, and today Morneau rightly took exception. He told Neal that he'd expected to play Tuesday after getting a cortisone shot for his elbow, but Gardy had decided to keep him out--and told Morneau he just wanted to give him another day to rest (presumably because Arizona had a lefty starter on the mound). The next thing he knows, his toughness is being questioned in the papers.

Gardy seems to feel like his brilliant plan worked, because it got under Morneau's skin. To me, it affirms Doug Mientkiewicz's complaint last summer that Gardy had a habit of saying one thing to his face, and then doing and saying another thing later. I'm also reminded that this club pushed Mauer to play through a knee injury that would need nearly another year to heal. There were whispers about Balfour's commitment, until he went to a doctor outside the organization and found that he needed Tommy John surgery. Gardy is also the guy who once called out Lew Ford for nursing a little arm injury, which turned out to be a broken arm. Not to mention how the club pushed Joe Mays to pitch two seasons with a bad arm, which the insurance company later refused to cover because it was a "pre-existing injury" that predated the contract he signed before the 2002 season. Besides, Morneau pointed out that he himself played through a hand injury late last season, although it put a severe crimp on his numbers.

Is this really effective management strategy? Do you want to publicly embarrass a player for sitting out, knowing that he was willing to play? If you could give a player a few days to heal up now and be good to go, or have him play at 60% for a couple months until he needs to go on the DL, which way would you rather have it? Gardy's message may have been received loud and clear, but is it at the expense of his young players' trust in their manager and clubhouse elders?

10 Comments:

At 6/10/2005 5:53 AM, Blogger SBG said...

It seems to me that I should make a comment about how it is all peace and love in Torii's and Jacque's clubhouse.

 
At 6/10/2005 8:42 AM, Blogger Third Base Line said...

Excellent post, frightwig. I'd forgotten about the stuff with Lew and Balfour. Makes you wonder what really goes on behind closed doors, doesn't it?

 
At 6/10/2005 10:28 AM, Anonymous Roscoe said...

You said it, man. It's pretty dickish to question a guy's toughness after he gets his hand broken by C.C. Sabathia and continues to try to play.

 
At 6/10/2005 10:48 AM, Anonymous dhanson said...

Whether nagging the young guys about their commitment to play is right or wrong, I'm not surprised that Gardenhire didn't play Morneau the day Morneau said he was ready. Gardenhire, like Kelly before him, usually waits one more day after a player says he's ready before he puts him back in the starting lineup. I've noticed this many times over the years, usually because the player complains in the presence of a reporter and it ends up in the paper. I don't know if this practice is to ensure that players don't come back too quickly or if it's designed to get their dander up so they'll be champing at the bit to get back on the field, or even if, as some people who frequent Twins blogs might believe, it's all part of a huge conspiracy.

 
At 6/10/2005 3:18 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

It's cool if he wants to give Morneau the extra day of rest, especially with a lefty on the mound Tuesday. But then to go to the papers with this innuendo about the kid's toughness, knowing that Morneau wanted to play and Gardy himself had made the decision to sit him on Tuesday--that's pretty dickish, as roscoe puts it. That's a nice way to undermine his young players and erode the trust they had in their manager.

I'd question the macho philosophy of pushing players to play through serious injuries in the first place. But if it's going to go on, at least keep it private. Why do it in the papers?

 
At 6/10/2005 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morneau was hit in the freaking head this year, and came back off the DL terrorizing opposing pithers. To question his injuries is ludicrous to say the least

 
At 6/10/2005 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I continually keep hearing about how Torii is such a leader on this team, but in my opinion, a leader does not cut down a teammate for being injured. Not a very good way to build team unity.

As for Gardy, I'd say he just lost a lot of trust and credibility from a whole slew of his team considering approximately half of them are "new" to the team this year or last.

 
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