With the Dodgers in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, preparing for a game which would eventually be postponed on account of rain, Clayton Kershaw made a beeline for the New York office of orthopedist, Dr. Bryan Kelley, of the Hospital for Special Surgery.
The takeaway is this. Kershaw has a “hip impingement,” which confirms an earlier diagnosis, and he either will pitch again in 2012 or he won’t. He’ll either have surgery which will put him out for the start of next season, or maybe he won’t.
My guess is, after much hand wringing the club and its most precious resource will get together and decide to do the smart thing – and soon, like tomorrow – and shut it down for the year. Surgery will follow shortly thereafter.
Kelley was Los Angeles’ second opinion, and the team has already said there will be others, which is fine, I suppose. I’d like to think the point of all this is to form a consensus, and to come up with the best plan for the young man moving forward, and not to save the season.
Because while we can argue whether the season is worth saving or not, there can be no intelligent thought behind the risking of a player’s health and career because a club didn’t do everything humanly possible to get the science down pat before making a decision, and err on the side of conservatism thereafter.
And I’m sorry, but I’m skeptical. In recent times, and this year in particular, the Dodgers haven’t had the best of track records when it comes to these things. They could not have handled Matt Kemp’s original May hamstring injury any worse if they’d outlined the thing on a chalkboard in advance.
First he could play through it, and even keep his consecutive games streak alive, then he couldn’t, needed a few days, and finally the disabled list. Then he came back early, injured himself further and hit the DL for another month-plus on the sidelines. Blame the player if you like; I say it’s on the organization.
Chad Billingsley had some elbow pain – no big deal, just a pitcher with an elbow – missed a start with a minimalist retroactive-DL move that included the All-Star break, came back better than ever, only to fall again with what might very well lead to Tommy John surgery. But the Dodgers aren’t sure about that either, and are trying another course of treatment.
Kershaw complained of pain in his right hip, had a cortisone shot and missed a big start in San Francisco ten days ago. He followed-up by throwing a great ballgame in Arizona last week, missed another outing Sunday at home because of increased pain in the hip, and the next thing on the schedule turns out to be a doctor’s visit 3000 miles away.
Like I said, I expect Kershaw to throw in the towel on his 2012 season imminently, while the team holds on to its for dear life, unless and until the math tells them it’s impossible. But that’s just a guess, and I could easily be wrong.
I just hope that whatever’s decided for, by, and about the Dodgers’ ace, it’s with something other than a cross-your-fingers mentality that puts the club first and the patient second. Or perhaps more accurately, the present first and future second.
All the better if a unanimous decision is reached, but if not, I hope the loudest, sagest voice comes from any one of the following, because they’re all to some degree responsible for what happens next, good or bad: doctors, trainers, Ned Colletti, Don Mattingly and Mr. Kerhsaw, in that order.
And Mrs. Kershaw. In fact, put her anywhere on the list she feels comfortable. Hers’ll probably be the wisest voice in the room.