I understand the 162 game MLB schedule is a grind, it’s not easy, and it’s not supposed to be. It serves to weed out the weak and the small, and only the strong emerge victorious. So when I embark on discussing the topic of durability, I want to make sure readers understand that I’m no expecting super human endurance, but I do want these guys to be athletes and that means being stronger than I am.
The Game 4 walk off, exactly the kind of spark that is missing when Coco Crisp is out. (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)
When I look at the stat sheet for the 2012 Oakland Athletics I notice a few rather glaring numbers in the games played column. Coco Crisp, I’m looking in your direction. I’ll get back to Coco in a second. Of the guys in the starting lineup, only Josh Reddick played more than 130 games, in fact he’s the only player on the entire roster to eclipse that mark. Of course a number of those players had low game totals because they were either splitting time, were in the minor leagues, or were dealt away. Brandon Inge gets a pass for missing time because he suffered a rather catastrophic shoulder injury that required surgery. Brandon McCarthy missed significant time with shoulder problems, and of course that frightening line drive he took in September, but he’s now with the Arizona Diamondbacks so his durability is their concern. The two players I’m concentrating on are the aformentioned Coco Crisp, and Yoenis Cespedes.
There’s no question these two were integral parts in the Athletics AL West title, the team got going when they got going. But they both missed extensive periods of time with what could hardly be categorized as major injuries. I’ll start by addressing Mr. Cespedes.
There’s no question that Yoenis Cespedes is an athletic specimen to behold, there really is nothing he cannot do on the diamond. The ball jumps off his bat, his instincts are pure, and he plays with a love of the game that is clearly evident every day. So when he missed time with either a bad hamstring, sore wrist, or some other minor malady the lineup was left with a gaping hole. Cespedes is the type of player that needs to be in the lineup at all costs, if he can go, he must go. I’m not an athletic trainer so I don’t know what can be done to address all these injuries, but someone in as impressive condition as Yoenis should not be dealing with things like this. It’s entirely possible that the simple grind of a Major League season, something he had never experienced before, just had a greater impact on his body than he ever imagined. If that’s the case, he should be able to adjust and be ready for the marathon in 2013.
Coco Crisp is an entirely different story. Maybe he’s been driving to fast in that Rolls Royce Phantom or something and it has thrown off his immune system and equilibrium. But missing large chunks of time with an inner ear infection or pink eye doesn’t exactly bring forth visions of Willis Reed. Coco has been injury plagued throughout his career, so this is nothing new. If it’s not a broken pinky on a steal attempt, to shoulder problems, to a bad hammy, it’s always something. And it really hurt when Coco was out because he’s a truly dynamic player, and he was the spark plug of this offense down the stretch. I won’t go so far as to say it was his fault that these types of injuries befell him in 2012, but they need to stop one way or another. Don’t be Matt Holliday and miss Game 7 of the World Series when your team needs you the most.