Thursday, August 4, 2011

More Indictments of the Red Sox' Doctors

As Nick Cafardo wrote in a Globe mailbag today that the Red Sox may have known about the Buchholz stress fracture all along, I'm going to call BS on that.  If they had known, they would not have done this comeback/flat ground/DL/flat ground/mound/flat ground garbage.  The last two months have been cluelessness.  Let's not kid ourselves.  Okay, on to the continuation:

Lowrie's Mono:  The first week, he started feeling fatigued.  The second week, it was a "mystery illness."  The third week it was mono.  This one is twofold:  The first is that it was a mystery illness for a while.  Behind pregnancy, mono was the most commonly diagnosed "mystery" illness at college because people in their 20s get mono quite a bit.  Shouldn't take a week to do a blood test and figure that one out.  The second indictment here is that four months later he resumed baseball activities.  I've never had it, but I know that mono can F you pretty bad.  But four months?  Even the mono-recovery plan they had at Colby College was more aggressive than that. This one is probably the least heinous of the indictments here, but it definitely leaves you scratching your head a little bit.  Guy's in big business making a ton of money and helping a team get to the MLB playoffs, but he can't recover from mono in four months?  Makes you either question the treatment or question how long it took to diagnose it before it got really bad.

Lowell's Hip:  Alex Rodriguez had hip labral surgery on March 8 or 9, 2009.  He returned almost exactly two months later.  Mike Lowell played through a torn labrum in his hip starting in late June or early July, 2008.  He made it worse, and then had surgery.  In August, it was diagnosed as a hip flexor problem.  Seven weeks later, it was revealed it was a torn labrum.  There's nothing I can write here that I didn't already write about Mike Cameron two nights ago.  But it cost Lowell production for more or less a half of a season.  I'm sure the player didn't cooperate much, because he didn't want to be told not to play, but it's another fishy situation among many others.  If either this or Lowrie were just isolated incidents instead of incidents that come alongside eight others, they would be non-stories.

You can also say the same about Josh Beckett's back injury last year, which, similar to Buchholz this year, was diagnosed with varying degrees of severity throughout the 2010 season.  I cannot in good faith blame the doctors much about JD Drew's back in 2008, because I think that's a situation where the player just didn't want to play.  However...

Curt Schilling's Surgery:  This 2008 battle royale was the incident that first made me question the Sox' medical staff.  Schilling signed a one-year contract and passed all of the doctors' physicals.  He revealed in February that he needed shoulder surgery, citing a need to continue the rest of his life normally.  The doctors said child please to the surgery, telling the player to suck it up and play through it so he could play baseball at 40% capacity.  There was a long battle between the player and the doctors (similar to 46 and Matsuzaka), and the player ultimately got the surgery.  But these guys clearly do not care about these people's quality of life.  Didn't know we were talking about the NFL or WWE.  By the way, that $8 million in guaranteed money could have been saved if their physicals were a little more thorough.  That also probably would have saved some embarrassment when Mike Lowell failed a physical when the Sox were trying to trade him to Texas.  Nothing like lazy, perfunctory work.

Matsuzaka's Surgery:  This is 2011.  Tommy John surgery is no longer experimental.  Big leaguers and little leaguers alike are having it all the time.  The player had a torn UCL.  And the Red Sox' doctors wanted him to rehab his torn UCL.  Really?  You'd be more successful using duct tape like Dr. Pappas did in the 90s.  This was Schilling all over again, just so he could play a little bit of terrible baseball at 40%?  Sorry.  I'd rather have Wakefield, Miller, or Bedard.  The fact that the Red Sox started to go to battle over this is downright repulsive, and the fact that it came on the heels of Schilling, Lowell, Cameron, and the infamous Front AND Back incident just sheds more light on the fact that these guys just flat out aren't getting it done.

Time to get someone new.  Somebody has to take the fall for it.  This is a long rap sheet, even if you take out the relative softies of the Lowell, Beckett, Drew, and Lowrie situations.  This medical staff has been pugnacious on the regular.  And they've been wrong in each of these situations.  Their job is to ensure the health of the Boston Red Sox players.  And some of their behavior over the last 3-4 years has indicated they're not getting the job done.


John said...


Depending on how bad the mono is, it can take you out for awhile. May not be the best comparison, but Goldblatt had it awful and couldn't do anything for a long time. The swollen liver/spleen is what they worry about, any contact can cause the spleen to rupture which is very rare, but possible. I imagine that's what took so long for him to return. I got steroids to deal with the swollen throat(obviously not an option for Lowrie). Not defending them not diagnosing it for 3 weeks(I got tested for it the day I walked in feeling like crap and had the blood test back like 5 days later). Anyway, the medical staff has been bush league at best over the past few years, and there is no reason for it. You're one of the richest pro sports teams in the country, get it together.

the gm at work said...


Bingo, and I'm glad that you came forward on this one. Guys from both of the track teams I've been on have come down with varying degrees of mono, and I wasn't sure if any of the basketball players who troll around this comments section had also come down with it. So I'm glad you told a bit about your story.

I'm sure the doctors weren't hot to trot on Goldblatt's mono in terms of diagnosing it quickly, because the way I see it, if you diagnose it quickly, you get to treat it before it gets as severe as his (and obviously Lowrie's) was. But then again, while he may have at one point been a determining factor of whether we'd beat Masco in a track meet or not, he's not a major league baseball player. Our track team didn't have a $175-180 million payroll. I say this as bluntly as possible: My health, your health, and his health are not as important as Jed Lowrie's. You shouldn't have had an answer more quickly than Jed Lowrie did. A team spending the resources they spend on players shouldn't be skimping on medical testing and treatment. They didn't with MRIing Manny's knees to prove a point. They should have been putting Lowrie (and 46's ribs, to be honest) through every test possible so that he could return to the playing field 100% as soon as possible.

I think steroids are okay as long as they're not anabolic steroids. In 2006, 3/4 of our conference in cross-country came down with a rash, and they were treated with non-anabolic steroids.

Your last sentence nails it.

Anonymous said...


Agreed that they need to bring a new staff. At some point you lose so much credibility that the players will always want to seek a second opinion because they don't trust the staff. At that point it's time to go in a different direction.


John said...

Yeah the main point was that I went, felt sick and since it was college they immediately asked if I had mono. Can't be an expensive test, and if you haven't had it as a player(this has to be asked on a medical form somewhere right? Just out of due diligence.) then you should be checked for it if something like this happens.