I’m running a little short on deep analytical inspiration this Friday afternoon, so instead I will point you to this excellent piece by the Wall Street Journal’s Dan Barbarisi on the daily routine that allows Eric Chavez, who suffers from chronic back problems, to play. Chavez has been an easy target of humor in the blogosphere because he has been incredibly injury-prone throughout his career. Barbarisi’s article, which details the hours of stretching and physical therapy that Chavez undergoes just to be able to set foot on the field, is a powerful description of the work Chavez puts in to play the game he loves:
To stay on the field, Chavez has developed an elaborate routine to prepare his back, and then prevent it from tightening up during the day. It begins with the morning of stretching, and often continues with professional therapy from noon to 2 p.m. before games.
Then it’s time to head to the park, where the real work begins. From the moment Chavez begins his game prep, he knows he will be in near-constant motion until the final out: If his back is moving, it won’t tighten up. So from 3 p.m. on, he moves constantly.
First comes hot-and-cold therapy. Chavez sits in a heated tank, and then a cold tank, to loosen, and then tighten up the muscles.
Then he puts on protective gloves, and applies heat packs to specific trouble spots on his body—shoulders, lower back, and neck, primarily.
From there it’s off to the gym, for 20 minutes of what he calls activation: treadmills, stretching with a medicine ball, core work.
Now he can start baseball activity.
The article illustrates why the Yankees may not be able to rely on Chavez even in this reserve role to stay healthy for the entire season. As Chavez himself describes, ”It’s such a cliché—but for me, I’m seriously day-to-day. And that’s how I view my career right now. It’s day-to-day.” Consequently, the Yankees would be wise to have contingency plans ready in case Chavez goes down with an injury or decides one day that playing is no longer worth the daily pain and effort required to allow him to take the field (bring on the backiotomy). But until that happens, I will definitely appreciate Chavez’s efforts on the rare occasion when he sees the field, knowing what it took to get his body ready to get to that point.
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