White Sox winning the injury game

March, 4, 2013
3/04/13
3:04
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
The numbers game only appears to be catching up to the Chicago White Sox, an organization that has witnessed an extremely low number of injuries over the last decade-plus when compared to other teams.

The latest spring injury nuisance is with reliever Jesse Crain, whose strained muscle in his right leg will cost him a spot on Canada's roster for the World Baseball Classic.

Crain will miss up to a week of spring training but told reporters in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday that he expects to be ready to go when the season starts.

Although no serious injuries have surfaced so far, the White Sox have dealt with their fair share of setbacks. Reliever Matt Thornton had a sore elbow to deal with at the start of camp while infielder Jeff Keppinger had a sore shoulder. Even slugger Adam Dunn had a sore elbow after getting hit by a pitch.

That doesn't include starter John Danks, who has been rehabbing his shoulder that required surgery last summer.

It's nearly enough to require players to take a number before entering the training room as the medical staff is undergoing an unprecedented busy streak.

Consider that over the past 11 seasons, the White Sox have used the disabled list less than anybody in the major leagues. If that doesn't sound impressive then consider this: The White Sox have used the disabled list 4,026 days since 2002. The next closest American League team is the Minnesota Twins at 7,805.

Even when accounting for Danks' lost time last year and the fact that Crain had two stints on the DL (oblique, shoulder), the White Sox are still healthier than everybody in baseball. The White Sox had 499 DL days last year, while the next closest AL team, the Seattle Mariners, had 551 days.

The credit not only goes to head trainer Herm Schneider and assistant trainer Brian Ball, the White Sox are doing all they can so that players can avoid the training room altogether.

Allen Thomas, the team's director of conditioning, takes preventative measures with a strength and fitness program, and is assisted by Dale Torborg, the minor league conditioning coordinator, to get the program in operation at all levels of the organization.

Like Danks, and Jake Peavy before him in 2010, injuries will happen. But the team's health has been so much better than the health of other clubs that the front office takes that into consideration when projecting the strength of the team from year to year.

So when projections surfaced last month that the current White Sox roster was expected to finish under .500 when compared to other rosters, White Sox management begged to differ. They expect to use less help from inexperienced minor league players and confidently project themselves as a better club.

The number that gives the White Sox the most confidence in that department is the 4,026 DL days from the last 11 seasons, which is exactly 5,470 days fewer than the major league average.

General manager Rick Hahn said that's a number that didn't seem to be taken into account when Baseball Prospectus' early-spring PECOTA projections said the White Sox will finish 77-85 this season.

“Their projections this year currently have us giving up 81 more runs than we gave up last year,” Hahn said earlier this spring. “Looking at this roster, our opinion is that probably isn't going to happen if everybody stays healthy. Now if we start hitting the (lower) innings totals they project for guys like Danks or (Chris Sale or Peavy or Gavin Floyd) then that's conceivable.

“It's a little of a difference in opinion in health and durability and there is also some stuff with our relievers where we project them a little different than they do. But it's an interesting system. I don't think it's necessarily biased against run prevention. It's a little more on health and durability in terms of their projections on us. Hopefully we're right.”

Doug Padilla

Chicago White Sox beat reporter
Doug joined ESPN Chicago in July 2010 and covers the Chicago White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jose Abreu
BA HR RBI R
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OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 35
RBIJ. Abreu 102
RA. Ramirez 77
OPSJ. Abreu .986
WC. Sale 12
ERAC. Sale 1.99
SOC. Sale 192