By Bryan Stauffer
Injuries are inevitable in sports, especially when they pertain to baseball.
It’s the nature of the game; it’s the grind of a 162-game season ” not to mention the mere three to four days of rest players get every month.
If you count spring training, some players could appear in as many as 190 games, making their bodies more vulnerable to injury before the season even begins.
With that being said, just how important are early-season injuries? Are they a little more feasible to deal with than midseason injuries or ones that occur down the hometstrech of the regular season?
Any injury is an important one, but teams and players both prefer that if there is going to be an injury, it would be more suitable if it occurred in the preseason or opening weeks.
However, there is always a fear of the injury reoccurring over the lengthy season, largely because players rarely get to rest and give their bodies a proper chance to heal without landing on the disabled list.
A team like the Dodgers, who will be without CY Young award-winner Clayton Kershaw until late April, would much rather this injury occur now than in the thick of a playoff hunt in September.
If all goes well with his return, Kershaw could essentially be in midseason form several weeks after the All Star break and in better overall shape once the final months approach than his counterparts.
Teams such as the Rangers, Braves and Diamondbacks are all dealing with early-season injuries to starting pitchers that have altered their plans on the bump so far.
However, pitchers aren’t the only ones dealing with early-season mishaps.
Positional players like Manny Machado, Shane Victorino, Jose Reyes and Cameron Maybin have combined to miss all but one game this season ” Reyes injured himself on opening day ” and have cost their respective teams a viable offensive and defensive option in the opening week(s); but, again, these are things teams would prefer to happen toward the beginning of the season.
If one injury does prove to be more costly in the early season, to a pitcher or positional player, it would be the positional player’s, because he sees the field four more times in a five-day span than a pitcher.
When you lose a player whose impact is felt day in and day out, that proves to be more woeful than losing a starting pitcher ” unless you’re losing a guy like Kershaw who can go the distance and take over a game anytime he takes the mound.
Luckily for the Dodgers, they have the rotational depth to make up for his injury for the time being.
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