The Twins had a million problems in 2011, and the biggest one was the number of injuries. Their use of the Disable List was legendary -- and not the good kind of legends. What's baffling is that it doesn't seem as if Bill Smith is willing to admit that anything could have been done about it.
Obviously, I'm no expert. My experience with anything medical related is limited to: taping basketball players' ankles in high school, owning a couple of anatomy and medical terminology books, knowing how to use WebMD, and being a mom of student athletes. However, whenever Smith says that they only had one instance that wasn't what he's calling a "collision" injury (and he's said it repeatedly), I don't buy it.
In fact, I think it's B.S. And I don't mean Bill Smith.
While it's true that several of the injuries were unavoidable mishaps -- Nishioka's broken leg, Delmon's broken foot, Denard's concussion, -- I feel like there were an awful lot of obliques, quads, forearms, and shoulders that are more "conditioning" injuries than "collision" injuries. Obviously, these things are typical baseball injuries, and no team is exempt from them. I'm just confused as to why Smith is reluctant to mention them. Did he forget about them? Is he lumping them in with the collision injures? Does he feel like they were unavoidable?
Also, I question the handling of the injuries once they occurred. It seemed like things that they claimed should be day-to-day wound up being DL stints, and the DL stints that they claimed would be around the 15-day minimum would be a lot longer. Days to weeks, weeks to months, and so on. Was the trouble with how they were estimating the returns, or with how well they treated the injuries?
It's hard to know who's at fault here. It would be easy to say that they should just let the entire medical training staff go -- the doctors, athletic trainers, conditioning coaches, therapists, scanner operators, guys who schlep the ice -- and start over. Well, that's not happening; Bill Smith said so on ESPN1500. And it probably shouldn't happen. Yes, the training staff may need to improve some processes and procedures. But the athletes need to be held accountable too. Joe Mauer admitted he came to spring training out of shape because of his knee surgery. I'm pretty sure that some of the other players could work on their preparedness.
I don't have any solutions for this mess. Do the players need to improve their off-season conditioning? Does the team need to teach the players better techniques for injury prevention? Does Gardy need to start kicking some butts? Do the athletic trainers need to be better educated in progressive therapy techniques? Do the players need to be held more accountable for their own health? Does everyone top to bottom need to have a better understanding of the difference between "hurting" and "injured"? Does the team need to invest in bubble-wrap uniforms?
I can't say. But I do wish that as a first step towards solutions, Bill Smith would properly admit to and identify the problems.