Gatemen trainer keeps an eye on injuries
We all deal with the occasional bumps and bruises, but when your body is a finely tuned instrument of athleticism, healthcare is a whole different ballgame.
That's where athletic trainer Kevin Francis, of Southcoast Rehabilitation Services, part of Southcoast Health System, comes in for the Wareham Gatemen, and for Wareham High School athletes during the school sports seasons.
Francis is with the Gatemen at home and travels with them for away games. On a day to day basis he makes sure injuries are taken care of, and monitors any chronic pains the players might be dealing with.
Francis says that when the guys get to Wareham and start practicing, one of the first things he asked them is whether or not they have any preexisting injuries.
This can be tricky, as some players will say they're good to play even if they have a bone poking through the skin.
"One year, I had a pitcher with elbow pain," said Francis. "Turned out his Tommy John [ligament] was hanging by a thread."
That injury unfortunately resulted in the player having to be sent home, but while Francis does his best to guide the young players in the right direction and keep them from exacerbating any injuries, he know there's only so much he can do.
"You're going to get a guy who's got those nagging injuries," but who isn't forthcoming, because he doesn't think it's a big deal, according to Francis. "They're 18 and older. They're adults."
Francis says that one of the most common injuries dealt with by baseball players is hamstring injuries, and this year the team is trying an experimental hamstring brace from the Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation that's supposed to help players with such injuries carry on without it worsening.
"We just tried it this year and we're giving them feedback," said Francis.
Francis pointed out that Tino Lipson, who will be playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game, is one of the players testing out the hamstring brace for a nagging injury that has been helped by the progressive care.
The Gatemen play 44 games over the summer, which added to the college season gives them an inkling of what life might be like in a year or two when many of them have moved on to play professional baseball. The long and arduous season is a test of endurance that can separate those who remain top college player from those who can play in the pros.
"They've already played 60 games when they get here," said Francis. "Between the college season and this they get a taste of what major league baseball is like."