It seems Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is upset about one thing for sure this season. No, it's not necessarily all the losses piling up. It does have something to do with a reason behind all of those losses: the injuries and how they are handled. He seemed angry and had some harsh words for Logan Morrison, who is set to undergo knee surgery early in September.
"It's not going to happen like it did in the past. Last year, LoMo went to [Taiwan], I don't know, I don't know why. I think this year, he's going to have surgery. I expect LoMo to be back in Spring Training, ready to be with the full-squad the first day of Spring Training. I'm not planning on playing LoMo in 'B' games, Minor League games, to see how he was. If LoMo can play in 'A' games in Spring Training, then he's got to work hard, because if not, he's not going to have a job here."
Guillen has seemed upset for some time about the way Morrison handled the knee injury that began last season. He mentioned earlier that Morrison should have known not to risk his knee, which was likely ailing before the surgery, in international goodwill games while missing potential time for his employer. With this, I can agree.
But it seems Guillen is going to be stricter with how he handles injuries.
"It's time for this organization to move on and be tough on the players and do the right thing," Guillen said. "I think we're going to let LoMo rest and make sure he is better for the first day of Spring Training, ready to go. It's going to be a challenge for him. I hope he's healthy."
"Not when I'm here. Because all of a sudden, those guys play bad, have surgery, rehab, and I'm the one who is going to get fired," Guillen said. "If I'm going to get fired, I'll do it my way. If they're going to fire me, I can go home and say, they fired me because I was bad. Because too many different things happened. We paid them a lot of money for them to play for us. They've got to respond to us, to the Marlins."
Initially, the comments, which aired in part on Wednesday night's Marlins telecast, sounded as though Guillen was pulling the old "tough guy" routine and asking his players to work harder and play through the pain of injuries. But in examining the full context of these quotes, Guillen is absolutely right in demanding that his players do their best for their injuries as quickly as possible. After all, they are also assets to the Miami Marlins.Guillen is railing against players unnecessarily taking risks with their health, no matter the situation. I'm certain many players have contingencies built into their contracts regarding certain risky activities, but for a player, taking care of his health should also be a consideration for the team. For the Marlins, these players are assets, and when a player fails to properly look after themselves and risks losing time for which the team is paying, it is a thorn in the side of the manager and the organization. If the Marlins were not careful enough in evaluating the health of their players before, you can bet that they will be tailing them about their health now.
One of the things Guillen particularly was upset about was players failing to have surgery at an appropriate time to fit into the team's plans in Spring Training. Again, this is something the Marlins should be concerned about. Marlins players are reporting to the club around March, which means they are on the team's time at that point. It should be a focus for players to get ready by Spring Training and plan any procedures around that time period. Morrison just barely made Spring Training and was in and out of games last season. Furthermore, he had to be rested more often early on, and I am certain that got on Guillen's nerves.
For a player, there is also benefit to this. Sure, the team has an obvious vested interest in a player's well-being, but no one should be more concerned about their health than the player himself. Look at a season like Morrison's, one in which we are certain injuries played a role in his lack of effectiveness. The last thing you want to seem like is injury-prone or ineffective, and properly caring for injuries is a big part of that. Perhaps if Morrison takes care of the knee earlier and gives himself more proper rehab time, he has less of a concern going into the outfield in 2012 and maybe he struggles less and does not require another surgery. Sure, the team should have helped him by not mismanaging the situation as poorly as they did, but he certainly could have kept his name more clean on the injury docket had he properly managed his knee situation.
As it stands, Guillen's thought process on injury policy serves both the Marlins organization and its players. Provided Guillen is not pushing for guys to get on the field too early and risk their health, he is doing the right thing in demanding his players get procedures done on time for Spring Training and the regular season.