8:57 AM CDT, July 5, 2011
It wasn’t that Carlos Marmol threw a wild pitch to lose Monday’s game inWashington. It wasn’t that Marmol had no idea there was a runner on base and did nothing to stop Jayson Werth from stealing third to set up the aggravating ending. It was that Marmol relieved an injured pitcher.
Marcos Mateo threw five innings last Thursday against the Giants, his major-league career high, then came back four days later and threw seven pitches before apparently throwing out his elbow. So Cub.
They always seem to have so many pitchers who get hurt, and get hurt significantly, famously including Kerry Wood and Mark Prior and the towel drill.
By significant, I’m talking forearm, elbow, shoulder. Forget things like ankles and groins. Forget Carlos Zambrano’s self-inflicted stupidities to his back, his carpal-tunnelled forearm and overall cramping. Forget the oldie but goodie that is Wood’s blister. Just look at the biggies --- the arm injuries. Andrew Cashner’s shoulder, Randy Wells’ forearm, Mateo’s elbow.
It might not seem like an overwhelming number, but about a setback a month in the highest-ranking-slash-scariest kind of injuries. The fact that all three involve pitchers with less than three years of major-league experience is a concern.
Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive to Cubs pitching injuries. Maybe some people will say it’s not so bad. But when two starters hurt their arms in the first two weeks of the season and now a guy gets hurt two batters after a career high in innings, I’m thinking there’s an issue with the care and feeding of some Cubs pitchers.
The pitching-specific injuries are the ones that make you wonder. I mean, how come the Sox have so many starters they have to gin up a six-man rotation, but yet the Cubs struggle to cobble together a one-man rotation at times?
White Sox pitching Don Cooper not only turns around first-round draft picks who failed elsewhere --- Philip Humber, Matt Thornton and Gavin Floyd --- but seems magical in the way he builds a staff where everybody seems capable of throwing a complete game on any given night.
The Cubs, meanwhile, always seem capable of starting a young guy on the verge of throwing out his career. And what hasn’t been hurt this year has been bad. Looking at you, Casey Coleman. And that’s how you get the Doug Davis-Rodrigo Lopez-Ramon Ortiz AARP rotation.
How does this happen? It can’t still be Larry Rothschild’s fault, can it? I’m sure that some people in the Cubs offices will blame Rothschild, who’s now with the Yankees, because it seems to be a trendy thing to blame people who aren’t around anymore.
Maybe it really is someone else’s fault. Maybe it really is a run of bad luck. But that’s awfully convenient for a general manager under fire, especially when it sure looks familiar.
The Cubs haven’t blatantly used the injuries as an excuse for ruining their hopes and dreams this season --- no, wait, Fanboy Owner Tom Ricketts in fact told reporters that there was “nothing’’ wrong with his team, that it was “just a lot of injuries’’ that apparently crashed this apparent World Series juggernaut. Ricketts’ statements, mind you, came as his team was about to be swept at home by baseball’s worst team.
Quick, someone tell the Fanboy Owner that injuries to pitchers aren’t an excuse for a bad season, they’re a window to a problem. Several problems, actually. Arm injuries are one thing, but a farm system incapable of producing quality or even mediocre replacements is just as indicting.
Maybe it’s the instructors and pitching coaches up and down Ricketts’ baseball organization that are the problem. If only Ricketts had a baseball guy to make sure his baseball guys can throw baseballs.
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