So I've spent much of today in a "thesis proposal bubble," sitting in lab trying to write up my preliminary results and make a research plan for the next three to four years of my life. Since this is due tomorrow for class, I haven't spent a whole lot of time thinking about the Pirates. I have, however, noticed the furor over Andy LaRoche's back problem and this quote:
A couple of years ago, LaRoche was hobbled by a protruding disc. He did not need surgery and the problem went away when LaRoche began a dedicated exercise program.
"My back felt great and this offseason I didn't really stick with (the exercises) like I should," LaRoche admitted. "I guess the doctors were right when they said I'll have to stick with them for the rest of my career."
My initial reaction was to shrug this off. By most reports, LaRoche has been swinging the bat all winter and doing his best to try and figure out/fix what was wrong with him in his stint with the Pirates at the end of last season. Not doing his back exercises seems stupid, but hey, LaRoche is a pretty young guy and young people do stupid things all the time. For example, I'm about 16 months younger than LaRoche and very allergic to cats. I have a friend that has a cat and every time I go to his apartment without taking some sort of allergy medicine before I go over, I'm a sneezing, sniffling, watery-eyed mess within about 20 minutes. I KNOW this happens, but three out of four times, I don't take allergy medicine before I go over anyways. This is because I'm too stubborn/lazy/distracted by other things to remember. So if Andy LaRoche doesn't do his back stretches, I sort of get it.
But that's not really the point here, is it? The point is, we've got a player coming off of one of the more embarrassing performances I can remember by a top-level prospect. LaRoche was so bad in 2008 with the Pirates that he went from being, "He's like his brother only he hits all year," to "Gee whiz, if he'd turn in a season like Jason Kendall did after his debilitating thumb injury, I'd be pretty damn excited." We were supposed to believe that LaRoche took his slump personally and that he was working all winter to find his swing again and figure out what he needed to do to get back on track. And now we find out that he wasn't doing back exercises that his doctor specifically told him he'd have to do for the rest of his life and unsurprisingly, he's injured his back again.
Now granted, this doesn't seem to be a serious back problem and I'm sure LaRoche has "learned his lesson" and all that, but it is really pretty discomforting to hear that he stopped exercises he knew were important, just because his back felt OK. I guess my point is that until Andy LaRoche plays well enough, he just hasn't earned enough trust from the fans for us to just shrug this kind of news off.