The lockout has been the main source of discussion in the baseball world over the last couple weeks. The lockout not only threatens the players income and livelihood, but also their access to all the resources the Astros and the MLB provide them. This is especially concerning for guys like Lance McCullers Jr., who are recovering from an injury. Lance said earlier this month that not having access to the team training staff is impeding his ability to recover from the injury and be ready for next season. Now while this is true, I think this mostly something he said to make a point to the owners. Locking them out now could end up costing their team in the long run. So what resources does LMJ not have access to normally? And what are his options in the interim? First let’s review what kind of personal Lance normally has access to:
· Head Athletic Trainer and Head Physical Therapist | Jeremiah Randall
· Assistant Athletic Trainer | Jeff Lewis
· Head of Strength and Conditioning | Nick Shedd
· Head of Sport Science | Jose Fernandez
· Assistant Strength Coach | Taylor Rhoades
· Massage Therapist | Katsumi Oka
· Head Team Physician | Dr. David Lintner
· Team Physician | Dr. Patrick McCulloch
· Team Physician | Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff
· Team Physician | Dr. James Muntz
· Team Physician | Dr. Vijay Jotwani
· Team Chiropractor | Dana Harper, DC
This is just the personal listed on the team website. The Astros have multiple interns and others at their disposal in pretty much every department. Not having access to all of these pros really hurts. You may be wondering why a strength coach or sports science guy is important while LMJ is injured, but the rehab process is not limited to athletic trainers and doctors. It is a holistic response by all facets of a team. Doctors and ATs are usually the driving force behind rehab. They’re the one establishing rehab protocols as well as a throwing program once LMJ starts back throwing. Strength coaches, especially in the off-season are critical. The baseball season is long, a good base of cardiovascular and muscular strength is so important. It makes you more resilient to injury, helps increase velocity, and could possibly help him throw more pitches in an outing. The off-season is the best time to do intense strength and conditioning training, so having no access to those guys also hurts. Sports science is an emerging field that helps the athlete recover and perform better, obviously something needed when recovering from an injury.
Okay now some good news. The reality of professional sports is that these guys have the means to go wherever they want and train in the off season. There are countless strength training facilities across the country that specialize in training professional baseball players, and specifically pitchers. Some of these include: Cressey Sports Performance in Florida, Champion Sports Performance and PT in Boston, and Traction Sports in Baton Rouge. These facilities have world class strength coaches and physical therapists to help the athletes train at their best. Another positive for LMJ that his elbow surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAtracche, isn’t affiliated with the Astros at all. He is however the team physician for the Dodgers, I’m not sure what the CBA says about this (I need a GM for that kind of stuff) but I’m betting there is no restrictions with doctors. Doctors have their own private practices and are team physicians in addition. Restricting all major leaguers access to any orthopedic doctor with MLB affiliation seems like a bad idea, but then again so does a lockout. Another important point is the ATs and strength coaches have known that a lockout was a possibility for months. They were undoubtedly prepared. There was a plan for every guy to get the care they needed while they were locked out.
While Lance McCullers, Jake Meyers, Alex Bregman, and other Astros who are still mending injuries from the 2021 season will not be able to have direct contact with Astros staff at this time. I do not believe this will have a major impact on the timeline we’ve laid out in previous articles. Personally, as someone who isn’t following every minute detail of the negotiating, I think this lockout is a mistake by the owners. The MLB never fails to figure out a way to kill any momentum they may have in reaching for new and younger fans, and a lockout is doing just that. If you want to read someone’s thoughts who has spent much more time digging into the lockout and how to come to a compromise to fix it, LarryTheGM has written many articles on it which you can find right here:
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