FORT MYERS, Fla. — Injuries are a part of sports. Reporting about injuries is part of being a sportswriter. Not a fun part, certainly. But an important part.
If you are a fan of a team, it’s reasonable that you should have some idea who is available to play on a given night or how your favorite player is recovering from whatever ails him. It’s also reasonable that a team shouldn’t give away its a competitive advantage by revealing too much.
Crossing those paths is where it becomes tricky.
Some teams — the Dodgers, for instance — let their trainer speak to the media and are open about the process. Other clubs will put the team doctor on the phone to give reporters the details they need to write an intelligent story.
Then you have teams like the Patriots, who pretend injuries don’t exist and hide information as best they can.
When I covered the Yankees in 2008, Joe Girardi literally lied about injuries and was caught several times. By the end of the season, his relationship with the media had deteriorated to a point where the front office had to step in and take that duty away from him.
The Red Sox are going in that direction this season for a different reason.
Terry Francona is not a liar. But he was often missing details when asked about injuries last season and that left the players to fill in the gaps. In some cases (Mike Cameron), it was easy. In others, not so much. Jacoby Ellsbury arrived in Toronto armed with note cards and read a statement to the media about his condition.
It shouldn’t get to that point as the players are not public relations experts. So the Red Sox will issues press releases this season, a process that started today with the information on Adrian Gonzalez. It’s a positive step that they realize the process had to change.
“To try and alleviate some of the confusion,” Francona said. “I’m actually hoping as the season progresses this year, we’ll try and do a little bit more like this. Take some of that out of my hands so I’m not guessing so much. … Probably put other people in difficult [positions].
But while Francona said the team would try to be “more consistent” with its information, this also could be a step toward the hush-hush Patriots way.
“What’s the word, a little Belichickian?” Francona said. “Is that the right word? Is that a good word?”
No, that’s not a good word. Red Sox fans pay a lot of money to attend games or to get NESN and watch them on TV. They deserve to know what is going on and hopefully this new system will work well. Good fans are informed fans.
Here’s hoping for peaceful relations (and healthy players) this season. Bottom line: we’re talking about a baseball game, not the nuclear launch codes. If we’re really to a point in society where some guy’s sprained ankle is a big secret, we probably all need therapy.