Among the suggestions manager Eric Wedge has been delivering to players in the final days of a season that ends today is the expectation that they do everything in their power this winter to get physically prepared for 2012.
That means, he said Tuesday, that players hurting now – such as outfielder Casper Wells, first baseman Justin Smoak and shortstop Brendan Ryan – have a busy offseason ahead.
Before Ryan can begin training to ensure he won’t have to deal with neck spasms again, he has to find out what’s causing the ones that have kept him on the sideline since Sept. 17.
“I don’t know what it is yet or how we’ll deal with it,” Ryan said, waiting in the Seattle Mariners clubhouse for a spine specialist. “It might need rest. It might be cortisone shots. I don’t think it’s surgery, but I just don’t know what the doctor is going to say.”
What Ryan does know is that baseball has been rendered impossible by the injury.
“When I first did it, I didn’t have a second in the day without pain,” he said. “I don’t wish that on many people. It’s driving me crazy now, and I’m much better. I can turn my head both ways, just not as far as normal.”
Ryan is a high-energy creature in human form, a man who seems rarely at rest. Now, he’s had no choice.
“I can’t do anything that involves the back. I’m living a life of restriction,” he said. “I’d like to get this thing done and get on with life. I want to go bowling. I usually start working out after a couple of weeks. This offseason, I might have to wait a full month.
“It’s better now than it has been, but I think if I tried doing anything physical at all, I could be right back where it started. I’m seeing a doctor (tonight), and there’s a spine specialist in (Los Angeles) that’s just down the street from me, so I’m sure I’ll be seeing him, too.”
It’s not hard to understand Wedge’s disappointment in the way his players have fallen by the wayside down the stretch.
Players who were shelved well before the season ended included Franklin Gutierrez (strained oblique), Chone Figgins (strained hip), Wells (equilibrium) and Ryan – four potential regulars.
Looking for a trivia question likely to stump most Mariners fans? Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas both pitched 200-plus innings this season – who were the last two Mariners to do so in the same season? It was in 2004, when Jamie Moyer worked 202 innings and Ryan Franklin pitched 200 innings. … In his first 20 games since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 2, Smoak batted .318 with three home runs and 11 RBI.
Seattle hosts Oakland in the season finale, a 7:10 p.m. game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Oakland’s Gio Gonzalez (15-12, 3.25 ERA) vs. Anthony Vasquez (1-5, 8.89).