Right Field

Pitching Through Pain Proves Costly

Yesterday, 21-year-old pitching sensation Jose Fernandez suggested to Miami Herald reporter Manny Navarro that his elbow injury, which will keep him away for the bigs for twelve to 18 months, might have been preventable:

According to Fernandez, he first “felt a little pinch” in his elbow “in the fifth or sixth inning” of his start against the Dodgers on May 4. Fernandez, though, said nothing to his teammates or coaches.

Fernandez said he felt fine after throwing his usual bullpen session after that start, but went into his next start May 9 in San Diego “knowing I wasn’t 100 percent.”

“I don’t remember what pitch, [but it was] nothing I hadn’t felt before,” Fernandez said of the pinch. “Pitchers feel that all the time when they throw hard stuff.”

Why didn’t he let the Marlins know he wasn’t 100 percent before his start in San Diego? “Because we were in first place,” Fernandez explained.

“I know health and all that stuff comes first for some people. For me, my team comes first. That’s who I am. I wish I could change it. Hopefully I’m going to learn from it. [But] I’m still happy with the way I made the decision.”

Last year’s NL Rookie of the Year is one of the game’s shining stars, both for his dominant performances and electric personality (never mind what sourpusses Brian McCann and Chris Johnson think), but now we can only hope that Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation will allow Fernandez to return to his old young self. This episode should also be a lesson for the game’s stars that playing through pain or with reckless abandon is good for neither your career nor your teammates’ chances of earning a postseason berth.

More here.

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.

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