Aug 8, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins (32) pitches against the Colorado Rockies during the ninth inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Consequences of Playing Hurt

I am a huge LaTroy Hawkins supporter. Besides posting excellent numbers this season, his veteran presence is a huge asset for the 2013 Mets.

With age and experience come a certain level of trust between player and manager. We saw this directly when David Wright chose to play hurt this season until he landed on the DL with a pulled hamstring.

“Being around for as long as I’ve been around, I have a pretty good sense of what my body can and can’t take,” Wright told reporters a few weeks ago. “I felt like I could go out there and play through it.”

“In my mind, there’s a difference between playing hurt and playing injured,” he continued. “We take pride in going out there and playing through certain things.”

Last night, Hawkins took a hit to the groin while trying to close out the game in the bottom of the 9th inning. Maybe it’s because I’m upset the Mets lost last night, or that I stayed up until 2am to watch it, but the fact that Hawkins wasn’t taken out of the game after being hit is frustrating to me.

It would be one thing if he went back out there and shut the Dodgers offense down. But four pitches later, he let up a game-tying 2-run home run to Andre Ethier.

To make matters worse, his post-game comments mentioned significant pain after he was struck by the ball. “Unbelievable the pain,” he tweeted to one fan. Beat writer Marc Carig tweeted, “Maybe the most excruciating postgame interview I’ve ever been involved with. LaTroy Hawkins could barely move. Direct hit. No cup.”

For Hawkins, I commend him for wanting to finish what he started. That being said, if he’s going to insist on staying in the game, I would hope his pain wouldn’t be so severe that he would comment about it so much afterwards. It’s hard to have sympathy for blowing the save if he’s going to make the injury an excuse. For once, I would like to see a player, manager, or even trainer take responsibility for making a decision that lacked judgment — in Hawkins’ case, playing hurt.

I realize this is only one game out of a long season, and I realize Hawkins probably didn’t want to look weak, but that doesn’t make it any less aggravating from a fan’s perspective. Too often, I’ve seen questionable decisions made when it comes to injuries in baseball. For example, to me, Wilmer Flores staying in the game after twisting his ankle during Monday night’s game was not wise. Why risk further injury? It’s up to the player to decide whether they want to stay in and face the consequences that may come with playing hurt, or swallow their pride and remove themselves from the game.

In a season full of key Mets injuries, sometimes I wish they would choose the latter.

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