Results tagged ‘ Rays Medical Staff ’

Cobb’s Honesty and Rays Diligence Could Save More Than His Career.

It is so easy for a pitcher to rule numbness and “tingles” throughout their arm as just the offshoot symptoms of a “dead arm” syndrome. His team could also push off the discomfort and pain towards that same side of the coin, and just let a pitcher works his way out of the situation. But I want to take the time to commend both the Rays Medical Staff and Rays Manager Joe Maddon and his crew  in their swift and concise decision making process concerning rookie pitcher Alex Cobb.

 Cobb is a budding, talented young pitcher who could have easily tried to hide his condition on Saturday night in fear of losing his place in the rotation, or possibly again being demoted back to the minors. Cobb could have taken the path of deception and the condition could have escalated or gotten worse until damage was irreversible and either surgery or shutting him down for the season was the only solution. In this case, honesty might have been the perfect course of action, and saved more than just his pitching career.

Some could say the play during the game where he had to come over and cover First Base on a bunt single by the A’s Coco Crisp could have been the precursor to this aliment coming to the surface. A blunt motion or force upon his right arm could have jarred the symptoms, or possibly brought to light a potential hazard in waiting. But that is just conjecture until the final medical reports ate filed.

Sure we might not know the extent or cause of Cobb’s arm numbness or sensations yet, but if the Rays learned anything from the Rocco Baldelli situation, it is to take nothing for granted. Sometimes a simple diagnosis would be the perfect solution, but the problem could still be there hiding, waiting for another chance to spring up and cause more havoc for Cobb in the future. By being concise and precise, the Rays could eliminate mirror image symptoms that occur within our own bodies.

But this story has a double dose of goodness to it too. Cobb by revealing the “numbness” in his arm to the Rays Head Trainer  Ron Porterfield and Maddon, it put into motion an immediate plan to try and decipher the symptoms and get conclusive answers towards solving Cobb’s discomfort. Cobb trusted the Rays medical machine to help eliminate this tingling sensation and not put off either time or progression to solving the body mystery.

Because it is Cobb’s pitching hand, the Rays took swift and detailed actions to protect one of their budding pitching gems. Cobb never looked like he could establish a consistent rhythm on the mound on Saturday night, and possibly the “needles and pins” sensation might have shown up early in the night. Not going to blame the numbness, but unless Cobb was tipping off his fastball, the Oakland A’s just seemed to fest on it Saturday night.

Still, it was great to see Cobb say something before the matter could have escalated towards a potentially long term injury. Huge praise seriously has to go towards the Rays Medical staff for their due diligence and process of eliminating and evaluating towards finding a cause or effect of the problem.

Pitchers have a limited shelf life normally in baseball. Good news came swiftly after  Porterfield sent Cobb to a local hospital for some more detailed blood tests.  Soon afterwards it was learned that Cobb did not have  a possible blood clot in his arm, which could have been a immediate cause of the numbness. There might be a battery of medical tests in Cobb’s future, but possibly this honest gesture might just be life saving.

Even thought the Rays have put Cobb on the DL, this move could prolong and help discover a possible aliment that is beginning to develop within Cobb. The result could be many more wins, and a long career. It is still amazing to be the torque and pounds per square inch a pitcher puts on his joints and muscles nightly throwing in Major League Baseball.

Injuries happen in a sport where a pitcher throws so much torque and pressure on their pitching arms nightly. By Cobb being upfront and telling the Rays about his discomfort, it might have been a precursor to more Rays wins, and a longer career. Sometime each of us hide small aliments or nicks and pain from our employers, hoping they will just simply go away.

Cobb was in tune with his body’ enough to know something did not add up, and asked for help before it could of escalated or become a more complex problem. It is a great example of a player trusting his gut, and a team listening and help solve a potential setback. Kudos again to Cobb and the Rays staff for both doing the right thing. Hopefully this is just something minor, but if it is not, then it could save more than just Cobb’s career…it could save his life.  

The Three Wise Men….The Rays Trainers’

Mike Carlson/AP

All throughout my athletic career I always saw this one piece of the total puzzle as a necessary evil. That even if we did not want to suffice to injury or to pain, I knew that the team’s Medical Staff and Trainer’s sole mission was to keep us healthy or get us ready to again take the field as soon as possible.

And within time, I began to see them not as evil, but as a saving grace to my career and others on the team for their dedication and their determination to do whatever was needed to make the team whole and strong again.

And right now, some members of the Rays Republic are beginning to see the small grip that early Spring injuries have had on this Tampa Bay Rays squad over the last three weeks, but most have forgotten about the trio of men working behind the scenes to mend, strengthen and solidify this team again before the April 6th Home Opener to the Major League Baseball 2010 season.

Most people are beginning to dwell and concentrate their attentions on the reports spilling out onto the Internet that gaze upon the Rays players names that have been taken off the daily line-up cards without seeing the total picture here right now. They forget that this is the time in the Spring Training season where the “dead arms” begin to multiple, and the players bodies are racked with aches and strains of sweating bullets for the last three weeks.

Some Rays players are hitting the baseball equivalency of a marathoner’s wall, where even the slightest pull or strain could develop into a more severe episode if not for the Rays trio.


And most people do not even know their names, but they know their faces because every time a player is hurt on the field, or is taken from the game with a injury, they are right there in the photo with the Rays player usually helping them or stabilizing a body part hoping that their small action will minimize the consequences of the injury and speed the player’s recovery even before they both reach the Home Team or Visitor’s dugout.

Some of the most unsung heroes on this Rays squad is the trio of professionals that make up the Rays Medical Staff. So today, I want to take a moment to introduce you to the main three figures within the Rays Medical staff that treat, diagnose and prevent the breakdown of our favorite team on a daily basis. And this includes everything from the pre-game taping of ankles, wrists and even hamstrings, to post game visits by player’s feeling a tightening or tweak of their muscles during the contests.

There collective job’s starts way before the first pitch is thrown during Batting Practice, and they days ins well into the early morning on game nights.


Mike Carlson/AP

Most people know Ron Porterfield more by his smile or his occasion visits out to the field to throw with a rehabbing player before the game, usually during B.P. And this move by Porterfield might seem foreign to most, but by observing the player in their throwing motion, he can see any deviation or hesitation personally and make his moves accordingly. And Porterfield has been doing this for some time for the Rays.


In 2010, Porterfield will be entering his 15th season with the Rays, and his fifth straight as the main guy on the Rays Medical Staff. And before his time at the top spot, Porterfield, was the Rays Assistant Head Trainer for three seasons after getting his stripes as the Rays minor league medical and rehabilitation coordinator. And during that time he has been a great ally to the Rays players, both past and present pertaining to both on and off the field medical situations.

Most people might not know the untold hours and endless research Porterfield did concerning Rocco Baldelli’s 2007 ailment, and his constant attention to finding relief and treatments that would enable Baldelli to again take the field with the Rays. And you would only expect such dedication and commitment from the 2008 recipient of the prestigious American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) Career Service Award. The honor “recognizes individuals who have provided a career of exemplary care to baseball players.” I think the Institute definitely got that one right!
And the New Mexico State University graduate did not just walk into the Rays position, he also had many years of working his way up the minor league ladder beginning in 1988 with the Auburn Astros of the short season NewYork-Penn League. Porterfield also spent time with the Astro’s Triple-A affiliate in Tucson, Arizona before finally arriving with the young Rays Medical Staff. But most people might know Porterfield by his ear-to-ear smile every day at the ballpark, and his excitement that seems to beam on his face when he hit’s the field before Rays games.

Bob Hansen/

The second Member of the Rays Medical Team recently got his photo in the news wire photos as the Rays were carting Rays catcher Dioner Navarro off the field after he suffered a massive cut and possible nerve injury on a Home Plate collision with Twins speedster Jacques Jones. Paul Harker usually looks pretty serious when you see him before, during and after games, but the rugged Rays Assistant Trainer is entering his fifth season in that position after leaving his post as the Rays minor league medical and rehabilitation coordinator after three prior seasons.


And Harker was involved in the Rays minor league system for over 11 seasons before rising to his post with the Major League staff. And before the Rays, Harker was a trainer with the Seattle Mariners in their minor league system at Hampton, Virginia (1991-1992), Jacksonville, Florida ( 1993-1994) and Wilmington, North Carolina (1995-1996). And like Porterfield, Harker has paid his dues to get to this level in his career.

The last member of this triad also got some attention recently as Rays starter David Price was nicked by the barrel end of a maple bat during a recent game and Nick Paparesta was prominently featured in photos throughout the country holding onto Price’s wrist as they both exited the field. Paparesta is entering his third season with the Rays as an Assistant Head Trainer, but he has been with the Rays organization now for five seasons.

YahooSports/Getty Images

Paparesta can usually been seen sitting down by the Rays Bullpen benches during Batting Practice watching the actions of Rays players on the field. He spent his first two seasons in the Rays organization as the minor league medical and rehabilitation coordinator and was responsible for overseeing all minor league trainers and rehabilitation with minor league players as well as assisting with the Major League club’s rehabilitation schedule.


Paparesta, a Florida native from neighboring city Fort Myers, got his Major League Baseball start in the Cleveland Indians organization for 11 years, including four with their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, New York. Paparesta has dual certifications as an Athletic Trainer from the National Athletic Trainer’ Association (NATA) and also certification by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a strength and conditioning trainer.

These three members of the Rays Medical staff are the front line responders to actions and reaction that take part in front of our eyes, and within the dugout on a daily basis for the Rays. Their fast actions and adherence to policies and team procedures pertaining to the health and well being of every member of the Rays staff both during the regular season and this Spring will have a direct impact on the Rays this season.

The prognosis and diagnosis by each member of this Rays staff is critical to supporting the Rays objectives and ultimate goals for 2010.  By keeping the Rays players on the field by mending their wounds and bandaging their limbs and applying ointments and medications to the Rays players when needed, they are the first line of defense to keeping this Rays team securely on the field and providing the team with a fighting chance to again rise towards a possible 2010 Playoff berth.

Lynn Sladsky/ AP

They all work their magic behind the watchful eyes of the Rays Republic to secure the Rays player’s health and generally are only seen when something bad or preplexing has happened on the field, or if called out to provide a second opinion into a player’s injury and offer guidance as to if a Rays player should remain on the field, or taken off the field for further evaluations.

They are just another part of this Rays organization that is on top of their game daily, and because of that, this Rays team is constantly getting the best care and solutions to keep the Ray team solid and cohesive during the Major League Baseball season.

So next time you see one of them hanging out at the ballpark, be sure to thank them for their services, and maybe ask how they are doing. For if it wasn’t for these three gentlemen and their commitment to this team, the Ray current injury situations could have been much worse, and resemble the shambles that is the New York Met’s Medical Staff right now.