Head Trainer Sue Falsone Leaves, But Will It Matter?

October 22, 2013 at 8:37 am | Posted in Sue Falsone | Leave a comment

ramirez_injured_2013-05-03The season was barely two months old in early June when the growing list of injuries seemed insurmountable. The most serious concern at the time was Hanley Ramirez injuring his hamstring just days after returning from his thumb injury, but it was also more about the quantity than the quality.

Or as I said on June 5:

I swear that the original version of this game thread made jokes about how for once there was no one headed to the disabled list, a rare occurrence after days of Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis and Chris Capuano. I suppose that remains technically true, because it doesn’t involve a roster move, but there is news and it is not good: Scott Elbert, who had already undergone surgeries on his left elbow in September and January, will now be adding Tommy John surgery to the list as well.

And then I had to talk about Mark Ellis‘ groin strain and Matt Guerrier‘s sore hand and… man, do I not miss what this season was like before everyone got healthy.

Looking back, it’s not at all surprising now that on June 6 I devoted an entire post to the injuries that were crushing the team and trying to identify who was responsible. Now, it appears the team has come to a decision on that: Sue Falsone, the first female head trainer in the major American pro sports, has stepped down, in what certainly feels like something that was more than just her decision. (Buster Olney outright says “she was fired,” though I’m not 100 percent sure that’s accurate.)

It’s impossible not to be simply shocked at the rate of injury this Dodger team suffered through, because it was never-ending even when it seemed to be getting better. Remember, it was only June 6 when we were panicking about team health, and while it was better after that, it certainly didn’t stop. That was before Kemp’s ankle and his September recurrence, it was before Andre Ethier‘s September & October were destroyed by his ankle, it was before Ramirez injured his back and shoulder and ribs, it was before Chris Capuano‘s groin injury, etc. etc.

Falsone took a lot of heat for all of that, because, well, someone had to, but even at the time it seemed clear that it wasn’t all on the training staff. It couldn’t be. Between the completely unpreventable freak stuff like Ramirez’ thumb (and then ribs), Kemp’s ankle, Zack Greinke‘s collarbone, and Yasiel Puig slamming himself into walls, and the collection of guys with extensive injury histories that Ned Colletti had put together like Crawford, Ellis, Ted Lilly, Capuano, Josh Beckett, and the simple fact that no trainer in the world was going to be able to prevent Chad Billingsley‘s elbow from blowing up, it was hard to put all of it on her.

Still, it wasn’t all due to old players or freak injuries, and the sheer volume was shocking. I imagine it also didn’t help late in the season when Kemp’s ankle went from “seemingly no problem” to “out for the playoffs” to “it’s highly unlikely he’ll need surgery” to “Kemp undergoes ankle surgery; Return uncertain“.

It wasn’t all bad, of course, because you might remember that we never again heard about Greinke’s right elbow after the spring, and Clayton Kershaw’s hip was never a known issue this year, and Ramirez praised her work with his constant injuries. If anything, I think many of us have been saying for years that we wish some of the heat would blow back on VP of Medical Services Stan Conte, also known as “the guy who apparently signed off on Jason Schmidt’s shoulder“. It’s not like injury problems have only popped up since Falsone has been around, and Conte was reportedly back on the field with the team this year anyway.

But something’s not working here, whether it’s the training staff or the players or both, and while obviously so many of these were out of her control, it’s difficult — from this distant vantage point, anyway — to say that an excellent job was done. Obviously, the situation is such that you wonder if anyone else really could have done better with what quickly became a mess, but I suppose we’ll find out soon. Without knowing what really went down, I can’t complain too much about this move either way.

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