Injured or Injury-Prone?

People often rip on the White Sox for having players of a certain age or a certain disposition towards getting days off over injury and health problems, and often with good reason. The former is really of no one’s concern, as many a player has battled the ravages of time to excel even in their later years, but what about the latter? At what point does a player turn from injured to perpetual injury risk? Let’s take the example of Carlos Quentin:

July 20, 2006: Major League debut
March 2007: Left labrum and rotator cuff; misses 13 regular-season games
August 2007: Right hamstring; 15-day DL
September 2007: Shut down for season; misses 27 games
October 2007: Surgery to repair labrum and rotator
June 2008: Thumb injury, day-to-day; misses 1 game
August 2008: Forearm injury, day-to-day; misses 2 games
September 2008: Shatters wrist, shut down for season; misses 30 games
May 2009: Heel injury, recurring; severity unknown, misses six games to date

In three partials and one full season, that’s 94 games wiped off the map due to injury, all segmented into seasons of of 55, 33 and six days’ worth of time off. Cut that however you like, that’s a lot of time. By way of comparison, Jim Thome, that elder statement of the pulled this or that, has missed 37 since first coming to the South Side in 2006; Jermaine Dye, 32 in the same period; Paul Konerko, 31.

What’s interesting is that any of Thome, Konerko or Dye missing a day or two is taken as a consequence of old age, yet when he smashed himself up so good last fall, most people took that as proof of Quentin being “intense,” “driven,” “competitive” or, eventually, even “cerebral.” But what if it’s something less desirable and – gasp! – not actually a sign of superhuman awesomeness at all?

Already anointed as the future CEO of the South Side Power & Lumber Company, what if he’s not actually the right man for the job? Not that he’s incapable of great things on the diamond, but that his body is going to continually render him incapable of playing?

What if these aren’t freak injuries but just The Way He Is?

What if Carlos Quentin is really just a powerful guy who gets hurt a lot? It would be nice to think these things are inevitable, that they happen all the time. . . except they aren’t. And they don’t.

Except to Carlos Quentin.