JOHN DOHERTY: Haste makes for waste at higher levels

2013-04-22T18:00:00Z 2013-04-22T21:11:11Z JOHN DOHERTY: Haste makes for waste at higher levelsJohn Doherty Times Columnist
April 22, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

The higher the level of sports, it is logical to assume, the better are the agents, athletes, coaches, management types, medics and scouts.

Bad assumption. The events of the past week have proven that.

One need go no further than the hero of Saturday's Red Sox win at Fenway Park, the first game there since the Boston Marathon bombings.

In the bottom of the eighth, with two out and the Red Sox trailing 2-1, 30-year-old Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer. At day's end, Nava's season stats were four home runs, 14 RBIs and .342 batting average.

Going into the last week of spring training, though, it wasn't clear that Nava would even make the team – typical for his career.

Cut in college, independent baseball and even by the Red Sox in 2011 despite hitting a grand slam in his first big league at-bat in 2010, Nava persevered. In so doing, he has overcome the label of being too small to hit for power and too slow for his size to play in the big leagues.

The supposedly smart suits in the executive suite in Boston – including Theo Epstein, now president of the Cubs, were always in a hurry to promote and play bigger and faster prospects. This was despite Nava being the best hitter on his team every year but one in his college and minor league career.

At least Epstein was smart enough to purchase Nava's rights for $1 from the independent Chico Outlaws in 2007 when every other big league squad passed. Then in 2011, when Epstein cut Nava from the Red Sox 40-man roster and every other MLB team passed again, he assigned him to the minors rather than releasing him altogether.

Epstein is not alone among Chicago sports decision-makers in misjudging a player's physical abilities. While drafting Joakim Noah five years ago may have been debatable, there is no arguing that the Bulls should have left him on the bench on Saturday.

Hobbled by plantar fasciitis in his right heel, he had said on Friday that he would be unable to play. Unfortunately, somebody relented and Noah limped his way to four points and five rebounds in 13 minutes. The performance may have been courageous but it was neither effective nor smart.

Having missed 12 of the Bulls last 15 regular season games and played limited minutes in the other three, he was still no better. Rest, medication including a cortisone shot, and experimental protein rich plasma therapy hadn't helped.

Who thought playing would? Agent, athlete, athletic trainer, general manager, head coach, strength coach, team physician?

At the professional level, they all have a say. In the case of Derrick Rose, all – to varying degrees – have been criticized for his recovery from ACL reconstruction taking too long.

Isn't it ironic that they are now under the gun for bringing Noah back too soon?

While Rose's recovery, at less than a year post-op, is actually still on schedule, Noah's was clearly rushed. Up against a hard play-off schedule, with other players ailing to various degrees, that's what you get.

But plantar fasciitis doesn't care that it is play-off time. It gets better only with prolonged relative rest, stretching, and finally a gradual pain-free return to activity.

John Doherty is a certified athletic trainer and licensed physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at

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