Washington Nationals' manager Dusty Baker and Nats' GM and President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo talked about revamping the Nationals' medical staff during Baker's introductory press conference in the nation's capital.
Baker was asked first if there was anything or anyone he brought with him from his previous jobs as a manager in San Francisco, Chicago and Cincinnati that would join him or could be applied in D.C. after a season that saw a number of Nationals bit by the injury bug to the point that they fielded their expected everyday lineup just twice all season.
"That's a big point and I've always said, if I can keep my front line players on the field more than yours and I'm playing against your second line team, then I'll probably beat you," Baker told reporters.
"The main thing is how you train, how you take care of yourself, and there's a certain amount of good fortune that you have to have."
"Mike and the staff here and Paul Lessard, he used to be my trainer in Cincinnati, they have assembled some tremendous people from masseuses to physical therapists, to nutritionists," Baker continued, before throwing it to Rizzo for more information.
"It was part of what we identified as one of the things that we needed to improve on," Rizzo explained, "and we really have come to a point where we've got ourselves really a cutting edge, expansive, innovative health system that's going to be in place that's going to be all-inclusive and hopefully will reap benefits. We think that that's the next frontier.
"We had over a thousand games missed by our core players and it's hard to win no matter how deep you are or how good you think you are in the minor leagues with that many games missed by your core players.
"With that said, we've invested a lot of money into it. We're going to wheel that out, our new medical people, when the time is right, when we're completed, but we're very excited about that addition to the ballclub too."
Apparently the time was right this afternoon...
The Nationals sent out a press release this afternoon detailing the changes in the "medical structure":
"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."
Those changes included the addition of "Harvey Sharman, the Director of Sports Medicine/Science for the Leeds United Football Club, as Executive Director/Medical Services," who will, "... work with a Medical Services advisory board to oversee all facets of the Nationals’ training staff, and strength and conditioning programming."
The Medical Services advisory board, "... will be headed by: Dr. Keith Pyne, Chairman/Medical Services Advisory Board, Dr. Robin West, Lead Team Physician, and Bob Miller, Nationals Vice President & Assistant General Manager."
The goal for the Nationals with all the changes?:
"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."
Paul Lessard, who was mentioned by Baker, joins the Nationals as the Director of Athletic Training following six seasons as the Cincinnati Reds' Head Athletic Trainer.
You can get all the details on the new staff and some of those who are returning through the link below:
The Nationals have also announced a press release for 1:30 tomorrow afternoon to discuss the chances to their medical structure. Stay tuned...