Credit the Marlins for being diligent, if nothing else. Almost immediately after the 2021 season ended, they determined that changes were needed on their athletic training staff. Finally, on Tuesday—more than 100 days later—they announced several newcomers:
- Lee Meyer hired as head athletic trainer (replacing Gene Basham)
- Richard Lembo and Ben Potenziano hired as assistant athletic trainers (replacing Brad LaRosa and Chris Mudd)
- Erika Gonzalez-Rebull hired as dietician
Lee Tressel (strength and conditioning coach), Amanda Sartoris (assistant strength and conditioning coach), Andrew Turpin (major league physical therapist) and Koji Tanaka (massage therapist) are returning from last year.
The “big name” joining the Marlins organization in this overhaul is Stan Conte. His title—senior director of medical services—is the same one he held in the early 2010s while employed by the Dodgers. His tenure there overlapped with Don Mattingly’s, and they departed L.A. together after the club’s elimination from the 2015 postseason.
Overall, Conte has more than 25 years of experience working in Major League Baseball. He has a publicly accessible website, Conte Injury Analytics, that provides a glimpse at how he processes injury data.
Craig Mish of SportsGrid reports that Conte was actually brought in as a Marlins advisor during the 2021 campaign. He had the opportunity to familiarize himself with their personnel and LoanDepot Park before moving into this position.
Excluding COVID related and “unknown” health issues, Marlins players had 34 total stints on the major league injured list last season, according to Baseball Prospectus. That is a significant uptick from the 2018 and 2019 seasons (23 stints and 22 stints, respectively). However, that aligns fairly closely with the league’s overall rise in injuries. And as Conte himself has written, the IL is a roster management tool rather than a “true database” of player health.
A partial refresher on Marlins major leaguers who had medical misadventures in 2021:
- Elieser Hernandez suffered a biceps strain in his first regular season start. Immediately upon returning to the active roster, he strained his quad running the bases and landed right back on the IL.
- José Devers was sidelined by a shoulder impingement. In only the third game of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Jacksonville, he aggravated the injury, requiring season-ending surgery.
- Brian Anderson overcame a mild oblique strain and season-opening slump, just to be derailed by a shoulder subluxation. Despite a deliberate rehab process, he aggravated it on defense while diving for a ball and underwent surgery.
- Sticking with the shoulder theme, Pablo López has missed significant chunks of each of his full-length Marlins seasons—2018, 2019 and 2021—due to strains in his throwing arm. No surgical procedures for him, though.
- Sixto Sánchez hurt his shoulder at the end of March during an outing at the team’s alternate training site. The Marlins prescribed him a few weeks of rest before beginning a gradual throwing program. When Sánchez’s progress stalled in July, he underwent surgery to repair a capsular tear.
- Jon Berti never returned to the field after suffering a concussion on July 22.
A lot of baseball injuries are the byproduct of unfortunate luck and timing, but hopefully the new staffers can combine their experiences to make marginal improvements to the well-being of Marlins players.