Saturday, February 16, 2013
Red Sox GM talks medical overhaul
By Gordon Edes
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington addressed the changes that have taken place the past two years in the team's medical staff, which in recent years has been roiled by internal divisions that had ripple effects on the clubhouse and the front office.
The Red Sox cut ties with medical director Thomas Gill, who had served in that capacity for seven years -- after the 2011 season -- then after last season dismissed physical therapist Mike Reinold, who, multiple sources told ESPNBoston.com, had clashed repeatedly with Gill and some players during his tenure here. At one point, Gill had been fired by then-GM Theo Epstein and replaced by Reinold as medical director, but owner John W. Henry immediately countermanded that arrangement, according to sources. Dr. Larry Ronan, the team's internist since 2005, is the new medical director.
"As everyone knows, we've gone through quite a bit of change the last two years," Cherington said Saturday. "It's really been a two-year process of reorganizing the medical staff. This offseason was Year 2 of two years. It was all done with the intent of not just putting the most talented group together, but a group that worked together seamlessly and put the players first, and earned the players' trust and developed credibility with the players.
"That's our intent, and there have been a number of changes that have happened toward that goal. I think the irony is, if things are going well in that area, we're not talking about it nearly as much as we have and you're not hearing from them, the medical staff, nearly as much."
The Red Sox have missed the playoffs the past three years, and in each of those years, injuries have played a significant role. In 2010, the team placed 19 players on the disabled list for a loss of 1,018 games. In 2011, it was 18 players and 803 games lost, and last year, 27 players were placed on the DL in 34 stints that cost the club 1,495 games, the equivalent of more than nine seasons.
"That's our hope going forward, [that] we're hearing from the guys in uniform more, and the guys in the training room less," Cherington said. "That's their hope, and our hope, too, and our expectation. So aside from that, everything I've seen in these stories that are out there, are really more about things that have happened in the past and not things going on right now, and our focus is right now."
Cherington said he had spoken with Reinold about possibly serving in a consultant's role, but no decision has been made.
"There's no current agreement," he said. "I don't know. It's something we had talked about, we'll see if it makes sense. There's no current agreement. He's not currently employed."
Reinold was valued here especially for his expertise in the care, maintenance and rehabilitation of shoulders, especially by the pitchers. Jon Lester said he and former Sox pitcher Josh Beckett were enthusiastic supporters of Reinold's program, while other players, including Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jonathan Papelbon, refused to work with him.