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Josh Beckett the Latest of Many Pitchers to Hurt Themselves While Swinging

In MLB, there is one main difference between the American League and the National League. In the AL, designated hitters are allowed but in the NL they’re not. That means pitchers don’t have to bat in the AL so their only job is to pitch. In the NL, more is asked of the pitchers because they have to bat too. Does the AL have it right? Should pitchers only be concerned about throwing the ball and not hitting it?

This idea has been debated for years and has been sparked by the injury to Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett who was placed on the DL because of a back injury. Beckett of course hurt his back while swinging in preparation for interleague play where he’d be forced to hit. Now if this isn’t downright pathetic, I’m not quite sure what is. When you play baseball at a professional level, you should have a certain level of athleticism. Unfortunately Beckett isn’t the only pitcher who’s been hurt swinging a bat (or trying to) over the last few years. Let’s take a look at some of the pitchers who need to stay on the mound and out of the batter’s box:

American League

1. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox – Beckett injured himself before the start of May 10th’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays by taking practice swings. Let’s examine this a little more closely shall we? Beckett was swinging the bat before a game against who? The Blue Jays? Ah, another American League team that he doesn’t have to hit against anyways. This makes my head hurt. The Red Sox said this was because the pitchers are getting ready for interleague play. The Red Sox’s first interleague game is on Sunday at Philadelphia. So, Beckett was practice swinging for a game that was 13 days away at that point? And now he’s on the DL. That is just plain dumb.

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A Baserunning Blunder Between Chien-Ming Wang and the Hall

OK, so maybe the Wanger wasn’t exactly headed for Cooperstown (settle down NY media, you don’t have that much influence) but it’s incredible how easily players can rise and fall in baseball — particularly pitchers. Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang was 54-20 his first three and a half seasons in the bigs, posting under a 4.00 ERA. Sure the record was deceiving because he was supported by the mighty Yankee offense, but a sub-4.00 ERA in the AL East is good. Now looking at the guy you wonder if he’ll ever bounce back.

It all started a Sunday in June last year where Wang injured his foot running the bases during interleague play. What appeared to be something harmless turned out to keep him out the entire season — an 8-2 year down the drain. This year Wang had a miserable start to the season, posting a laughable 34.50 ERA after his first three outings. Even after returning from a DL stint he still wasn’t effective, though he did lower his season ERA to 9.64. The capper finally came on Tuesday night when it was announced Wang would have season-ending shoulder surgery.

While Wang will likely be back next year, there’s serious doubt that he’ll ever get back to his 19-win form. Keep it in mind: for every Johan Santana and C.C. Sabathia out there, there are five so-called one-hit wonders that flame out because of injury or true lack of stuff. Wang was second in Cy Young voting three years ago. Brandon Webb and Jake Peavy aren’t even thought of anymore. Knowing all this and the Phillies still want to keep Kyle Drabek and J.A. Happ instead of going with a reliable, consistent starter like Roy Halladay? They’re nuts.