Jeff Passan had an interesting article about Corbin Burnes. In it, he says that Burnes turned his career around after Brian Cain, a well known mental coach, told him to start making his bed. That one’s from Admiral William McRaven - who even wrote a best selling book - who got that one from the Navy. When I was in boot camp, I got a bit frustrated with the exacting way that we were required to fold our underwear for inspection. I asked my company commander what the point of this was and instead of just yelling at me, as he often did, he looked at me and said “If I can’t trust you to fold your underwear properly, why am I going to give you a nuclear submarine to run?”
Damn good point. Attention to detail was drilled into me from Day One in the Navy and in the world of baseball, it’s often something that’s lost. Practices are often very loose. Mechanics are not one-size-fits-all. Outside coaches are an accepted practice. Even the rules change in baseball, so would more attention to detail, more discipline, really help? There are coaches who are like that - Buck Showalter is probably the best known of the modern contingent. The Mets are certainly better, but how much is Showalter and how much is Steve Cohen? Hard to separate the two.
In medical management, the details are key and I’m beginning to wonder if one of the issues is that players today aren’t used to being managed, to having expectations set on them, or being responsible for things. Even at the collegiate level, there’s seldom huge expectations or responsibilities for the players, while there’s still too much “injuries are just part of the game” on the part of everyone else.
By the way, read all the way through for an interesting discussion on the use of AI and where it is in relation to UTK. Let’s get to the injuries:
VLADIMIR GUERRERO JR, 1B TOR (inflamed knees)
As Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was making his way up, the question was regularly about his size. Sometimes people would couch it as position - “can he stay at third?” - or athleticism - “should he just be a DH?” - but he’s been solid defensively, even if he didn’t stay at third, and he’s been durable, playing in 160 or more games the last two years and a near-max in 2020. Since a minor oblique strain back in ‘19, he’s barely had a bump.
But all that comes with some worry now that he’s having lingering knee soreness. As we saw with Gavin Lux, one wrong step can blow everything up, but playing on less Rogers turf the last couple years might have helped save the wear-down many thought would be an issue with his legs. He came into camp in 2020 in the best shape of his life, or at least slimmed down, but the pandemic kept us from seeing whether that was a plus or sapped his power. Like many, Vladito put on a few over the first months of the pandemic, but he’s still just 23 and he could go keto at some point.
The knee soreness could be nothing more than the mild inflammation the Jays are letting on, or it could be the first sign of weardown. The worst case scenario is he moves to DH, which seems to work well for his family, and that he needs more rest here and there. That hardly takes away any value. Brandon Belt can be his knee issue mentor, as well as taking an occasional day at 1B if really needed. My guess after talking to a solid source is that this is nothing at all in the scheme of things, but maybe a nudge for Guerrero and the Jays medical staff that it could have been an issue and could be again someday. It’s never too early to start a maintenance plan.
It will also cost Guerrero a chance to play in the WBC. The Jays have to like his priorities, but it deprives us one more star in what should be a real global showcase.
ANDREW PAINTER, SP PHI (inflamed elbow)