I recently spoke with one of the leading injury experts in sports, Will Carroll, about Chris Carpenter’s injury. Here’s what he had to say:
Steve Hirsch: Considering all of the injuries that Carpenter dealt with throughout his career, is it surprising that he had as much success as he did for the Cardinals over the past ten years? Or are injuries just a part of the game that every player deals with and his performance shouldn’t be noted any differently?
Will Carroll: Yes, great point. Credit to him, his surgeons, the athletic trainers, and Carpenter himself for dealing with what he dealt with. He was never really healthy and still put up great numbers. 20 years ago, no chance he does this. Reminds us that some guys from the 50s and 60s might have been Carpenter good, but didn’t have the chance.
SH: You mention how Carpenter’s history of injuries has impacted his ability to recover successfully from his surgery last year. What’s the best advice you would have for a guy like Shelby Miller or Trevor Rosenthal in trying to protect their arm from a injury-filled career like Carpenter’s?
WC: You know … we don’t know. That’s the problem. We have ideas and we’ve changed how we pitch, but we actually have more injuries. MLB lost $1.4 billion dollars to pitching injuries in just the last five years, yet there’s not even a million dollars in research being done. Do pitch counts work? How about biomechanics – why are less teams doing them than when Moneyball came out? There are some teams doing better, but not many and there’s some evidence it’s just luck there. Baseball as a sport needs to do more. Some team needs an edge and they’ll get it by being first.
SH: As far as the public knew, Carpenter was having a seemingly fine offseason and everything was going fine, particularly after he seemed to appear strong at the end of 2012. What specifically do you think may have happened between then and now to cause a change in the way he felt, and what exactly is the rehab process like from here should he try to make a comeback?
WC: I’m not sure. I have a feeling that the shoulder just finally gave out and that the pain was not only from the TOS, but other internal problems. Impingement? Cuff? Labrum again? Who knows, but I think Carpenter started his throwing program and realized that he didn’t have it, or maybe just didn’t want to go through it again. I think he’ll rest and try to figure out what is next and sometime in May or June, he’ll pick up a ball and see if it feels any different.
Click here to see Will Carroll’s article from last night which describes the Chris Carpenter injury in full.