The baseball offseason is a time for many newsworthy items: executives come and go, managers come and go, players come and go.
But in the annals of baseball history, I doubt the firing and hiring of the athletic trainer has ever attracted as much press coverage as it has in Minnesota with the Twins.
Five days after the season ended, the Twins said goodbye to trainer Michael Salazar, effectively blaming him for the countless number of player injuries that plagued the team. It’s not entirely his fault, of course, but after a second straight disappointing season and 30-some banged up dudes, if anyone’s head was going to roll, it was going to be his. And so it was.
How do you quantify the impact of player injuries? Try this:
–MLB.com: The Twins had 2,363 player-days lost to injuries, second most in the majors, including 19 players on the injured list to end the season.
–Star Tribune: Twins players missed 1,500 games, second most in the American League. The newspaper also noted the number of players on the injured list to end the season, but added that 12 of them were on the 60-day injured list.
To replace Salazar, the Twins hired Nick Paparesta, who spent 12 seasons with the Oakland A’s, five with the Tampa Bay Rays and 11 with Cleveland.
The local media has done a good job of slicing and dicing the data to show just how injuries hurt the Twins. But now that they have a new trainer, isn’t there some corresponding data on Paparesta and his time with the A’s? What’s the stat for fewest athletic trainer-related injuries per team? Or fewest injuries allowed? If the stat doesn’t exist, I bet it’s around the corner.
The Strib did at least give us this: The A’s had the Athletic Training Staff of the Year in 2019. But what did that mean for the team?
Well, we know this much: The A’s were a wild card team in 2019 at 97-65.