When it rains, it pours. It’s one of the oldest clichés out there, but there isn’t a cliché that better describes the unbelievable number of injuries to the Dodgers over the past month. I’ve never seen anything like it my life.
But lets be honest here – injuries have been a part of the game since professional baseball began 130 years ago and they will always be part of the game. So when I hear or read comments from people looking to blame someone for the rash of Dodger injuries, I get mad about it; in fact, I get downright incensed about it – especially when the finger is being pointed at the Dodgers strength and conditioning staff.
How are Sue Falsone, Nancy Patterson, Greg Harrel or any of the Dodger strength and conditioning coaches responsible for Matt Kemp destroying his shoulder by running into a wall at Coors Field? How are they responsible for a mentally deranged Carlos Quentin charging the mound and breaking Zack Greinke’s collarbone? How are they responsible for Adrian Gonzalez tweaking his neck by running into an umpire; or Mark Ellis, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez (and possibly now Jerry Hairston Jr.) suffering hamstring, quadriceps or groin injuries while running the bases; or Chad Billingsley tearing the labrum in his elbow?
It’s simple – they’re not responsible for any of these injuries, and anyone who honestly thinks that they are doesn’t have a clue about the game of baseball (or any other sporting activity for that matter) or about sports medicine. Injuries happen – and that’s just the way it is.
Over the past two years, I have come to know Sue Falsone and I can absolutely assure you that there isn’t anyone on this planet who takes their job more seriously than Sue does. And for those who think that Falsone got her job as the Dodgers Head Athletic Trainer just because she is a female or just because the Dodgers wanted to have the first female head trainer in the MLB, think again. Falsone is quite possibly the most qualified head trainer in all of baseball.
How qualified, you ask?
Falsone has a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Daemen College in Amherst, New York and a master’s degree in human movement science, with a concentration in sports medicine from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to her position with the Dodgers, she also serves as Vice President of Performance Physical Therapy and Team Sports at Athletes’ Performance, one of the nation’s largest and most popular performance training, nutrition, and physical therapy organizations. AP is the training home for many of the countries most elite professional athletes, including Andre Ethier and several other Dodgers.
Falsone is also a board certified clinical specialist in sports physical therapy, a certified athletic trainer and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. In fact, I would be willing to bet that Falsone is more qualified for her position as the Dodgers Head Athletic Trainer than her boss Stan Conte was when he held the position two years ago.
There is one Dodger player who is undoubtedly extremely grateful for Falsone’s qualifications and expertise – Dodger second baseman Mark Ellis. Almost one year ago to the day, Ellis was taken out by Cardinals second baseman Tyler Greene on a clean slide while trying to break up a double play. Although visibly in pain, Ellis initially told Falsone that he was okay, but the following morning he told her that he was experiencing discomfort and swelling in his lower leg. Hearing this, Falsone had a suspicion and insisted that Ellis go immediately to the hospital. As it turned out Falsone was accurate in her assessment – Ellis required an emergency fasciotomy on his leg which, according to doctors, could have cost Ellis his leg had he waited any longer to come in. I’m betting that Mark Ellis is pretty happy that Sue Falsone knows her stuff and insisted that he go immediately to the hospital.
In spite of the dedication and hard work of Falsone and her staff, there are some who criticize this group of professionals claiming that they do not work with the players to stretch them out before the games. I can tell you first hand that this is hogwash. Sue and her staff arrive at Dodger Stadium hours before most of the players do and spend hours working one-on-one with the players wishing to put in extra work. And while there may be some players who do not workout under the watchful eye of Sue and her staff, this is entirely their own decision. Rest assured that no one on her staff would ever refuse to work with any player requesting their help. Those who chose to criticize Sue and her staff for not stretching out the players are unwarranted in doing so, as most of it is done indoors out of public view either in the new state-of-the art weight room or the new trainers room located next to the Dodger clubhouse.
As I said, injuries happen and will continue to happen to the Dodgers and to every other team in baseball – it’s just the nature of the beast. But don’t think that they are happening to the Dodgers because Sue Falsone and her staff aren’t doing their job, because nothing could be farther from the truth.