Dodgers: The Padres Have a Long Way to Go to Catch LA’s Approach to Injured Players

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. And after yet another injury to one of their players, this seems to sum up the San Diego Padres and their approach when it comes to player safety. It feels necessary to state that we would never wish injury to any player, regardless of the team they play for. But this one, unfortunately, did not come as a surprise.

The Padres have created a stigma for themselves. Of recent vintage, they have rushed back players time and time again, only for them to re-injure themselves or not look 100% for quite some time. The most recent example of this came on Wednesday afternoon with the return of starter Dinelson Lamet.

The San Diego Way

Dinelson Lamet

Lamet has been recovering from an elbow injury sustained at the end of 2020, which looked like it might require surgery. Instead, Lamet and the Padres decided to go with rehab in the hopes that he would be ready to go in 2021. Everything looked to be going according to plan, but after just 2 innings (!) of work in his return, Lamet was pulled from the game only hours after being reinstated.

Freak injuries happen all the time, but it’s fair to question whether not having the surgery last season was the right call. Lamet now appears destined for a second Tommy John surgery, which would be a shame for such a talented pitcher.

Fernando Tatis

Meanwhile, Fernando Tatis is in a tremendous slump of his own. One of the most exciting players in baseball last season, Tatis has struggled in the early part of 2021 as injuries have kept him from gathering any rhythm at the plate. It was only a few weeks ago that it seemed possible that the Padres would be without their star shortstop for the foreseeable future, thanks to a shoulder injury sustained during the swing below.

To be clear, Tatis had his shoulder pop in and out of its socket during that swing. This isn’t an injury that should be taken lightly, and it’s one that can easily cost a player an entire season if mishandled. And considering the hefty investment that the Padres made in their shortstop over the offseason, no one could blame them for playing it safe and letting the shoulder completely heal before letting him take the field again. But this wasn’t the case, as Tatis was activated just in time for the big series against the Dodgers this past weekend. And while he did hit a towering homer in his first game back, that hit is one of only two since his return to action.

As of Wednesday night, the young shortstop is only 3-21 with 9 strikeouts since returning from the IL. It’s clear that something isn’t right with Tatis, but the only ones who don’t see it are those in charge of keeping him healthy.

If this were an isolated incident, you could chop it up as a young competitive player wanting to do everything he can to be there for his team. But this isn’t a one-time occurrence. We saw this last season with Mike Clevinger. We’re seeing it with Fernando Tatis. And now, we’ve seen it with Dinelson Lamet.

Notably, promising young left-hander Adrián Morejón is also headed toward Tommy John surgery of his own.

The Dodger Way

The Dodgers, meanwhile, have approached every injury with extreme caution. The perfect example for this is Cody Bellinger and his pesky leg injury.

After being spiked during a game against the Athletics earlier this year, Bellinger was only expected to miss a few days as a result. Operating with extreme caution, the Dodgers decided to place him on the IL in order to avoid rushing him back until he was fully healthy.

The injury seemed to linger past the original timetable, and a new scan showed that it was worse than originally thought.

Had the Dodgers gone with their initial timeline and brought Bellinger back early — say, perhaps rushed him to play in the San Diego series last weekend — chances are that his leg injury could have gotten much worse or at the very least affected his performance on the field. Instead, he will likely return after a rehab assignment in Arizona to get back to full strength.

Additionally, LA arms like Brusdar Graterol, Joe Kelly, and Tony Gonsolin have all been treated with caution as they make their way back to the active roster. No rushing.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to judge teams for their actions when we don’t have to make the same decisions on a daily basis. Once a pattern starts developing, however, it is no longer a mistake or an accident. Players are competitors and will always want to get back on the field as soon as possible, but make no mistake about it: it is the team’s responsibility to do what is best for their players. 

The health of Tatis and Lamet will continue to be topics of conversation for the foreseeable future, but the early comments from Padres manager Jayce Tingler point to the same cycle of taking unnecessary risks repeating itself. 

The Dodgers have been a consistent example of what it means to operate with caution while the Padres continue to rush back players to their own detriment. There is no denying that both teams have the talent to win it all, but getting to the finish line on one piece may be another story.

NEXT: More Tickets Go On Sale For This Weekend Against the Padres

Daniel Palma

Daniel is an avid sports fan who loves his hometown teams. If he's not watching baseball, you can find him playing or coaching. No matter what, he'll always root for the Boys in Blue!


  1. Dodgers are no different. You see players get hurt crashing into walls, hit by pitches, etc. Trainer comes running out, players try to say they are ok, manager leaves them in the game, even with people on the bench who could take their spot. This happens in close games, and blowouts with the Dodgers ahead or behind. The player should be taken off the field immediately for evaluation, icing to prevent swelling, etc. Instead the player plays injured, hurting himself and the team, trying to be a “big boy”. The next day the player is given a game or two off, or put on the injured list. This is an obvious sign that they made a mistake to let the player talk them into letting them stay in the game.
    And what’s up with the Seattle stadium having a brick wall behind home plate, as a faux “old time throwback” to brick stadiums of days gone by? Some architect must think he is something special with his design touches. Will Smith crashed into it trying to catch a foul ball, and almost messed up this hand. MLB needs to put out mandatory specifications for all ballparks for finishes and padding to protect players from injury. All other industries have OSHA regulations to protect workers, MLB needs to get with the times.

  2. I agree with the assessment in this article. I was surprised to see Tatis back so fast with a modified two hands on the bat swing follow through instead of the one handed follow through. That change alone could be a factor in his hitting struggles since the shoulder dislocation. You can’t just change a swing, even a follow through, on the fly and expect the same results. If I had a huge investment in a player, I would make real sure he didn’t injure himself severely by continuing to play at the risk of further, and worse injury. But I don’t know if it’s lingering effects from from the initial injury or the modified swing that’s limiting Tatis. The situation with Lamet is disappointing. If a doctor says TJ surgery is the approach and rest won’t magically heal a damaged ligament, just do it, and accept a 2 year program to get back up to full speed.

    The Dodgers are deep and able to absorb injuries and keep winning without rushing people back before they’re ready. But the Padres are deep too, and could bring up their own version of McKinstry if needed. So it does run deeper than that. The Dodgers gave Seager plenty of time to recover from TJ surgery even though he’s not even a pitcher who would likely reinjure himself from a premature return to play. They gave up some MVP caliber play from a guy who may be gone at the end of this season. Why? Because it was the right thing to do. I hope Seager remembers that as the free agent offers come in. Some teams do the right thing, and some will just dump an injured player, or just use him up for whatever time he has left with them.

  3. If you really cared to remain objective in this you would have taken the time to do some much-needed research into the organization’s philosophy. You are wrong on a number of issues above. The most glaring is your refusal to not mention that in the cases of Tatis, and Lamet at a minimum of two surgeons told Tatis surgery was not necessary at this time AND we know that Lamet was told by three surgeons, including the world’s foremost expert in elbow injuries, that surgery was not an option, not an option, they called it unnecessary. You forgot to mention that at the same time Lamet went down, Clevinger went down a day earlier, he did have surgery and he was considered to be much worse. Further, Morejon was taken out of his start after 1 inning, and had TJ surgery last week, after again, seeing three different surgeons. Your motives are clear, so just be honest with your readers. This was never intended to be an honest objective report on team philosophies, this was just another shameless attempt to further prove the Padres are inferior to the Dodgers. They are, and until they beat your team on the field, they have no room to talk. But, c’mon, this act is tired. You own the Padres on the field, that isn’t a secret, nobody debates that, why do you insist on trying to find ways to prove what everyone already knows. It is insulting to fans everywhere when homer “reporters” deceptively makes assumptions or claim to actually know what they clearly don’t. This is what I’ve come to expect from Dodgers fans, but it is still shameless all the same, and at some point, it must become clear that you’re just making a fool of yourselves. Because as Padres fans, we don’t really care what you think anyway. You’re better than us, you beat us 60% of the time over the past decade, all our fans know this, the organization knows this, MLB knows this, why do you think we hate you? We respect your dominance and want to end it. But this article is just disrespectable, you hide the truth, refuse to tell the whole story in order once again one-up the Padres…its shameless, pathetic, and an embarrassment to sports reporting. Do better.

  4. It is a mistake to judge how the Padres are handling their injured players. They have doctors,trainers and coaches who have all the facts. Deciding to use PRI instead of major surgery isn’t a mistake, it’s prudence and patience.

  5. I’m a huge dodger fan but… Extremely biased reporting. Dodgers are renowned for rushing dudes. Just check all the Hammy injuries the last couple years and their reinjury stats.

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