On October 19th, it was made public that the Nats dismissed their medical training staff led by Lee Kuntz and their head of strength and conditioning John Philbin. A few days later we learned that players were not pleased with their medical care.
The Nats, after several weeks since we announced Paul Lessard was hired, has made his hiring official along with several other Doctors and staff members. We’re not exactly sure why there was a long delay, but believe it was to fully name the entire medical team.
From the Nats Official Blog: “With a focus on being proactive and utilizing injury-prevention techniques, the Washington Nationals announced a new medical structure and expansion on Tuesday, with several personnel additions and changes. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcements.
In an innovative shift, the Nationals are transitioning their medical department to one that utilizes a proactive model, with significant analytic input. This will allow the Nationals to hone in on predictive factors to thwart potential injurious situations, and increase performance, by maintaining the health and wellness of their players.”
The Nats name Harvey Sharman, the Director of Sports Medicine/Science for the Leeds United Football Club, as Executive Director/Medical Services. Sharman will work with a Medical Services advisory board comprised of Dr. Keith Pyne, Chairman/Medical Services Advisory Board, Dr. Robin West, Lead Team Physician, and Bob Miller, Nationals Vice President & Assistant General Manager. Sharman along with the advisory board will oversee all facets of the Nationals’ training staff, and strength and conditioning programming.
The Nats entire medical department according to the report “will expand from 43 full- and part-time personnel to at least 48, reflecting the organization’s further investment in the health and wellness of Nationals players. The Nationals are also currently in discussions with additional personnel that will continue to expand the department.”
Paul Lessard assumes the position that Lee Kuntz held on the field as the Director of Athletic Training and will have in his group Dale Gilbert, Joe Cancellieri, and the Nats bring back Matt Eiden in a new role as Head of Conditioning and Strength Training, and John Hsu as Asst. Trainer and Patrick Panico will shift to Corrective Exercise Specialist. The Nationals have also retained Dr. Thomas Cullen (Team Physician and Internist) and Dr. Bruce Thomas (Team Physician, Florida).
Further information from the Nats Blog: “Sharman, a physiotherapist, comes to Washington after 15 years with the Leeds United Football Club, the previous eight as the organization’s Director of Sports Medicine/Science. Sharman began with Leeds as an assistant physiotherapist, but evolved into the head of the organization’s medical department. During this time, Sharman focused on movement dysfunction, and, subsequently, the development of injury-prevention strategies. With Leeds, Sharman oversaw an injury reduction of more than 50 percent, including a significant drop in soft-tissue injuries (muscular/ligament/tendon injuries).”
Dr. Wiemi Douoguih who was hired by Jim Bowden back in 2008 as the Nats medical director also served as the team doctor for Orthopedics and will be replaced by Robin West who is also a board-certified orthopedics and sports medicine surgeon and will serve a dual role while remaining with Inova Sports Medicine in Virginia. “West joined Inova in July 2014 as the Medical Director of the Sports Medicine Institute at Inova, where she oversees the program’s clinical, strategic, administrative and academic affairs. West, who has a special interest in the prevention and management of injuries, has served previously as the assistant team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as the head team physician for the Carnegie Mellon University athletic department, and as the head team physician for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, and swimming and diving programs. A Southern California native, West joined Inova after more than 11 years of clinical experience as an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
Pyne, head of Keith E. Pyne, D.C. PLLC in New York City, specializes in working with specific professional sports injuries. His treatment concentrates on the neuromuscular structural integration that resolves injuries and biomechanical discrepancies by addressing the problem in the body’s kinetic chain. Pyne, who has been consulting for the Nationals since 2012, has consulted with and treated over 1,300 professional athletes across all major sports (including: baseball, basketball, football, hockey, boxing, golf, and track & field).”
This seems like the Nats are taking medical care inside baseball to a whole new level. This is long overdue to get ahead of the curve on preventative procedures. With 1,030 games lost by Nats players to injury according to the ManGamesLost website, it became apparent the Nats weren’t moving in the right direction. Part of the problem centered on off-season workout regimens, but also centered around Span’s injuries and sports hernia surgery that waited until December 2014, and Werth’s shoulder surgery was delayed to January 2015.
Time will tell on these types of moves as to assess whether or not the Nats can move to the best on the ManGamesLost listing of MLB teams.
In a h/t to Laura Peebles for focusing on this quote: “hone in on predictive factors to thwart potentially injurious situations” and some would say wrist injuries are not predictive when you get a fastball in tight; however, hand and wrist injuries are more predictive in batters who extend their arms out like Michael Morse, Jayson Werth and Yunel Escobar do which makes it somewhat predictive, right? If so, shouldn’t certain batters where some body armour accoutrements to protect against hand and wrist injuries? Companies like EvoShield Baseball Armor make some armor to protect athletes. There’s also the popularly named ‘Zimmermitt’ as Laura pointed out for those headfirst sliders like Trea Turner prefers and wouldn’t you want him wearing that as soon as he gets on the basepaths?
Updated: 11/17/15 4:05 PM EST: We have learned from our sources that Dr. Keith Pyne was first introduced to the Nationals back in 2011 by Jayson Werth and has been on the cutting edge of such treatments such as PRP which is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy, and it utilizes platelets from the athletes’ own blood to better results. An article on Dr. Pyne: http://gotham-magazine.com/sports-authority
Updated: 11/17/15 7:50 PM EST: @JWerthsBeard pointed out on Twitter that Jayson Werth already wears body armor on his wrist and we seemed to be generalizing and should have pointed out that Jayson currently wears wrist armor and just needed a wrist guard with a higher armor rating. Thanks for bringing that to our attention Beard.
You can read more here on the new medical staff: http://curlyw.mlblogs.com/