Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Injuries, Injuries All Around

One of the keys to any team having a great year is a certain amount of good luck with injuries. Whenever you see a team roll to 100 victories or to a World Series win, it's a good bet that they stayed relatively injury-free that year. This ability to stay healthy is some parts good conditioning, some parts the work of a good training staff, and most parts plain good luck. Injuries are as much as part of sports as the heroic feats that we watch for, and any time a team goes through a season without a key player getting hurt at some point has been very fortunate.

In this regard, the Giants of last year were laden with shamrocks and leprechauns. The team had only one major position player miss any extended amount of time in 2010 (I'm not counting Mark Derosa, since he was basically a non-factor), and I think it's safe to say that the Giants didn't miss Edgar Renteria much during the regular season. As for the pitching staff, aside from a random Joe Martinez start in June, the Giants had only six pitchers make starts for the team all year, and it was only that many because Todd Wellemeyer turned out to be a steaming pool of suck. With pitchers and their penchant for arm woes, that's almost unheard of in any year. As much as we want to make like the monkeys when it comes to Giant pitchers getting hurt, an injury-free rotation isn't likely to happen again.

So naturally things already appear to be correcting themselves early on this Spring. Cody Ross hobbled off the field in the first inning today with a calf injury, something that didn't look serious at first glance, but an MRI tomorrow could prove otherwise. Ross is slated to be the everyday right fielder, and even though he's not an All-Star, the alternatives out there are worrisome. Suddenly fans are facing the unnerving prospect of another Opening Day with Aaron Rowand in the starting outfield.

The Beard himself, Brian Wilson, has been battling an oblique strain and it's unknown whether he will be ready for Opening Day after he had to cut a workout session short this morning. If Wilson is out, it obviously puts the closer situation in flux, likely necessitating a move of Sergio Romo and his magic slider into the role and creating a negative domino effect throughout the entire bullpen. Perhaps a closer-by-committee will be utilized, but I honestly don't want to think about a world without our favorite epic crazy man on the mound in the ninth inning at this point.

As if that weren't enough, Matt Cain has battled elbow inflammation early on, which is a concern with any pitcher. So two key players already have injuries that could force them to miss extended time, and a third has a nagging hurt that could balloon into a more serious one at a moment's notice. Hoo-freaking-ray.

Are we witnessing the Giants' injury luck evening out with a vengeance right now? Having any of those three guys miss a lot of time is a truly horrifying proposition, but you'd be a fool to think the Giants could go another full year without an injury to a key player. Being able to weather the injuries makes a good team; being lucky enough to avoid them altogether makes a great one. Healthy seasons like 2010 don't happen often, so grab your box of Lucky Charms and pray that lightning strikes twice.

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