Thursday, April 03, 2014

Honeycutt: Against Baseball's Globalization; Wants Fewer Off-Days

Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, dealing with injuries to ace Clayton Kershaw and bearded reliever Brian Wilson, raised some questions about the Dodgers' season opening trip to Australia and how that might have thrown things off. Strangely, as part of the argument, Honeycutt seemed to advocate for more work for his starters, not less:

"Spring Training is about getting the body physically ready for 162 games," said Honeycutt, who usually has his starters make a minimum of five spring starts, but Kershaw made only four, matching Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren for the team high.

Of course, plenty of teams that didn't go to Australia have been dealing with injuries. And Dodgers officials point out that the actual length of this year's Spring Training was comparable with most recent seasons, the main exception being the lengthy delay (18 days) between the day the Dodgers reported and the date games started (9-13 days in the previous six springs).

Still, Honeycutt said he hopes MLB seeks his input on scheduling before planning another international opener that would require another stilted training camp.

Among the suggestions Honeycutt would make would be to reduce the number of off-days, both after arriving abroad, and also after returning to the United States.

The Dodgers and D-backs left Arizona on a Sunday night, arriving Tuesday morning. They worked out Tuesday and Wednesday, played an exhibition game Thursday night against Team Australia, were off again Friday, then played games that counted Saturday night and Sunday.

The Dodgers returned after the Sunday game, landing in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon. They were off Monday, worked out Tuesday and Wednesday, then played exhibition games against the Angels Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Look, I understand Australia might have been disruptive to the schedule and cut off a few more lazy days at Camelback Ranch. but it was awesome for the Dodgers (who went 2-0) and awesome for a sport that has faded in relevance stateside (relative to football and basketball) and threatens to be irrelevant internationally (like Australian Rules Football). Bold steps needed to be taken, and I credit MLB and the Dodgers for sacking up here.

Injuries could have happened to Kershaw and Wilson on either continent this spring, just as they have afflicted the Diamondbacks' Patrick Corbin (whose injury occurred in spring training, not in Australia). And given the 14-hour flight, I'm not so sure that having a cushy travel schedule of off-days was a bad thing. In fact, it seems to me that packing in more games into the schedule would have made our players at greaterrisk of injury, not lesser risk. That doesn't make sense.

Let's just get well, boys. Stop pointing fingers and just recuperate!


Hideo Nomo said...

Stop pointing fingers

Because you might injure your fingers.

Steve Sax said...

Honeycutt Injures Finger By Pointing; Will Miss 2-4 Weeks