Thursday, November 6, 2014

Yankees: Brett Gardner’s September swoon explained

There was word from New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner Wednesday that he was suffering from a core injury in July and September of the 2014 season. Gardner described his injury on MLB Network Radio and explained his recuperation is just about over after surgery performed in mid-October.

Gardner went under the knife to repair damage to his rectus abdominis muscle requiring four weeks of rehabilitation. He stressed that he is about one week away from being 100 percent healthy. It will have no effect on his offseason regimen.

Gardner entered the final month of the regular season hitting .269/.344/.443 with 16 home runs and 55 RBI, but fell into a terrible slide which dropped his final slash to .256/.327/.422. He added just one more homer and three RBI over the final month. His 17 dingers and 58 RBI were career-highs. Gardner swiped 21 bases in 2014, marking the fifth time he’s stolen at least 20 bases in a season.

The core injury was certainly a factor in Gardner’s performance at the dish and he’s hopeful that the surgery stabilizes the issue, allowing him to regain the form he showed from April through August. There were parts of the 2014 season in which Gardner was the top offensive player for the Yankees and they’ll need his full abilities on the field in 2015.

While it was commendable that Gardner played through the pain, seemingly knowing that the injury was affecting his play, it remains to be seen if he should have just shut things down with the Yankees having no realistic chance of reaching the postseason.

Playing through injuries is a double-edged sword; it’s great to see the competitive spirit of players come through, but if performance is so severely impinged on then the player should have the wherewithal to speak with his manager or front office about it. This is especially true when there is little served by continuing to play, and where surgery is ultimately required. Why make things worse?

Gardner wins some points for fighting through it, but as he grows older over the remaining four years of his contract, he’ll have to be cognizant of his health and how it affects the team long term.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.