MLB Daily: There Are Over 100 Players on the 15-Day DL, Happy Trails Bruce Chen

By Mike Cardillo
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Welcome to MLB Daily, where we expect to be promoted to field manager any day now …

“Over 162 games and even tough guys get strains… Sore arms… Muscle pulls…” — Lou Brown, Major League

One of the weird aspects of professional sports is the total lack of empathy many fans have toward players when it comes to injuries. There is a standing logic that if someone is a professional athlete they should be immune to the same level of decency afforded, say, a co-worker. Think to yourself about the last time you sneezed and it felt like you pulled every muscle in your back. Ideally, yes, you’d like pro athletes to be in the kind of shape where the minor physical ailments that waylay the average human don’t bother them, but everyone’s bodies are composed of the same flesh, blood, bones, muscle, sinew, etc. If a medical professional figured out a way to prevent hamstring pulls, reckon they’d be a very rich person.

Anyways, I mention this because often people think baseball is an easy sport to play. True, there isn’t non-stop action or running. You’re not getting tackled by a strong safety coming over the middle or getting checked into the boards or distance running. It’s hard for baseball to shake this thinking considering one of the all-time greats, Babe Ruth, was considered a “fat guy” who, according to legend, liked to eat hot dogs.

Baseball is different in that you’re standing one minute, sprinting the next. Think how much can go wrong with your anatomy doing two of the sport’s basic actions: swinging a ball and throwing a ball. Factor in the 162-game season and the travel it entails — admittedly I spend three hours on a plane and feel like I need to go to the chiropractor — and baseball takes its toll on the human body, pro athlete or not.

Monday night I browsed through the 30-team disabled list. For the purposes of this column I left out the 60-day DL, even so there were 113 players on the 15-day DL, nearly four per team. (That equates to 15 percent of the active, 25-man rosters.) Players like Adam Wainwright tearing their ACL or Masohira Tanaka experiencing wrist pain or Yasiel Puig going down to a hamstring pull tend to draw headlines, but injuries like Baltimore losing Jonathan Schoop or the Indians losing catcher Yan Gomes or the A’s losing Ben Zobrist compound problems for their teams just as much. The Orioles have played most of the season with their entire middle infield in various stages of injury.

As it stands the Mets, fittingly, have the most players on the 15-day DL with 10. The Reds only have one, Manny Parra. Amazingly, the Rangers list nine players on the 60-day DL, including Yu Darvish and Jurickson Profar.

If there’s anything to draw from this, it’s that in a post-PED baseball landscape organizations will continue to need to work the depths of their 40-man roster and beyond. Baseball is, if nothing else, a grind. You need a lot of bodies to get through that all the way to October, or November and also a lot of luck. All it takes is one awkward swing to tweak an oblique and cost your best slugger 4-5 weeks on the shelf, if not more.

Chen lasted 17 seasons in the Majors, coming up with Atlanta in 1998. He finishes with a 82-81 mark and 4.62 ERA. 82 wins ties him with Mariano Rivera for the most by a Panamanian-born player in Major League history.

Chen bounced around most of his early career, before finding a home with the Royals in 2009. Maybe my favorite thing — now that he’s retired– about Chen is that despite never coming close to 90 on the radar gun, he still went out there and got Major League hitters out. Even as a lefty, it takes some sort of guts and guile to run out their every fifth day throwing in the mid-80s. That’s the beauty of baseball. Hitting is all about timing, so you can be Aroldis Chapman, Chen or anyone in between and still find a level of effectiveness.

Good bye Bruce. You will be missed (except when you pitched against our favorite team), in this little corner of the Internet. Let’s hope in retirement Chen is afforded more time to offer his thoughts on David Hasselhoff:

Bro: Josh Donaldson and the Angels’ dugout traded words yesterday. Here’s the post we ran on it. Read his lips and make of it what you may. Per the MLB.com report, Donaldson said it was something in “the heat of the moment.” The Angels dugout, particularly pitching coach Mike Butcher didn’t see it that way.

"“Nobody was talking him to him at first,” Butcher said. “Literally, I was just sitting there at first and he started cursing, yelling back. He went back to the dugout. I guess he was trying to get somebody’s attention [and] asked the coach next to him, ‘Who’s that?’ They told him who it was, and he said his profanities and made a classless gesture. I guess that’s just part of what he is.”"

I will wager a steak dinner this won’t be the last time professional athletes use foul language at each other during the game, at least until the game is played and umpired by robots. However it’s doubtful we’ll see it directly (and willingly) in front of the camera like Donaldson did on Monday. The teams meet again tonight and we’ll have to see if this turns into something inherently stupid. Maybe it would be best if everyone moved on and let it go — imagine that!

Walk offs: There is nothing quite like a 73-year-old’s unbridled enthusiasm for a walk-off winner from a mid-May baseball game, is there?

Carlos Sanchez’s 10th-inning hit lifted the White Sox over Cleveland, in a game that featured a pitching duel between Corey Kluber and Chris Sale. In his last two starts, Kluber lowered his ERA from over five to 3.79. His Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is now 2.31, which is better than his 2.35 mark last season when he won the Cy Young. Kluber leads the American League in strikeouts. His record is, err, 1-5.

John Mayberry Jr.’s single in the 14th pushed the Mets past the Cardinals 2-1. Matt Harvey pitched well again, but didn’t factor in the decision. I’m more impressed by John Lackey, who continues to throw pretty well for the Cardinals after looking like his career was just about over a few seasons ago. Allen Craig, whom the Red Sox got back in exchange for Lackey last summer, cleared through waivers yesterday and Boston took him off the 40-man roster.

This & That: The Brewers beat the Tigers 3-2. Victor Martinez appears headed for a needed stay on the DL. … Speaking of Babe Ruth, Ichiro tied him on the all-time hit list last night at 2,873. Impress your co-workers with that super fun nugget of baseball goodness. … Washington called up prospect Wilmer Difo from Double AA this morning and he might start at second base right away. … This was linked in the Roundup today about local baseball television ratings. Spin it however best it suits you. I like baseball and enjoy watching it most nights, as you should gather by now.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

[Homework]

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