Ribgate a non-issue -- for the moment
Even if he's cleared, Peavy shouldn't pitch again this year
ST. LOUIS -- As Ribgate moved into its second day of worldwide media attention, you might ask how much Jake Peavy's injury affects the Padres' chances in the rest of this National League Division Series with the Cardinals.Glad you asked. Here's your answer: Not one bit. For the moment, at least. Remember, even if Peavy came out of Tuesday's Game 1 perfectly healthy, he wouldn't have been back on the mound until Game 4 on Sunday. For the Padres, there's the little matter of winning Game 2 here in St. Louis or Game 3 in San Diego on Saturday before a Game 4 is even in play. And that's no little matter at all, is it? We're talking about the defending National League champions here. Regardless of who they're playing, the Padres can't be taking time to wait on Peavy to limp out for the big playoff moment like he's Willis Reed or, more appropriate to the sport and the era, Curt Schilling. For the next two games, Ribgate is a non-factor. Ditto Peavy. "He's not pitching [Thursday in Game 2] or the following [game], so that's behind us," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "It wasn't good news, but it shouldn't affect our club at all. We've got to keep pushing here." For the rest of us, it's impossible not to dwell on it, at least a little bit. And when you're talking about an off-day with a whole little media around, it's more than a little bit. Most of the questions point backward to how it happened, and who knew what and when. That's where it gets a little like a suspense novel, because there are some who know and the rest who wonder. Granted, we're talking about the ace of the team, the future of the franchise, so it's understandable that the subject was Topic A the day after. On the other hand, this isn't the JFK assassination, and we don't need an investigation by the Warren Commission. Then again, there is a Zapruder film that may give us an answer to exactly how Peavy suffered this injury. You can see pretty clearly if you watch the video ( 56K | 350K) we have right here on MLB.com. He goes up for the stage dive, and it certainly looks like he lands on catcher Ramon Hernandez's helmet in the middle of the standing dogpile. Now, you can debate all you want about the celebrations on the field, and how the Padres' own farmhand Tagg Bozied blew out a knee in a home-plate scrum a year ago, or Dustan Mohr injured himself leaping over the dugout fence to join the fun when the Rockies beat the Padres on Opening Day this year.
But you can't stop the boys from having a little fun out there. Maybe the stage dive isn't a great idea, but let's not put up a fence between the dugout and the mound for clinchers, for crying out loud.You can also play the blame game. Should Peavy have said more? Perhaps -- but the injury might have gone from bruise to break when he tripped in the third-inning wild pitch. Should the training staff and pitching coach Darren Balsley been more cautious knowing what they knew? Perhaps -- but that's easy to say now, and they're certainly not out to see Peavy get hurt. From the sound of it, Bochy should have known more going into the game, just so he'd know. But if there wasn't a cracked rib going into Tuesday's game, as the Padres' medical staff seems to believe, then it's unlikely Bochy would have gone with somebody else for Game 1 anyway. In fact, even for those with trained eyes who have seen practically every pitch Peavy threw this season, there wasn't much early in Tuesday's Game 1 loss to the Cardinals that tipped off that Peavy had a problem at all. "I thought he looked great," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. "I told a couple of advance scouts I was sitting next to, 'He's got his 'A' game today.'" In the end, those weren't Peavy's "A" results. By the time he gave up Reggie Sanders' grand slam, it was evident that Peavy didn't have that extra gear to push his fastballs from the low-90 mph range to the mid-90s. He wasn't himself, and the MRI showed why. Still, as Ribgate Day 2 progressed, the "don't count out Jake" mantra kept creeping in. He might be ready for Game 5, it was said. That has a very simple response: Don't do it. It's not worth it. The biggest reason isn't that Peavy's ribs might hurt him and he wouldn't be able to handle the pain. That's not the point. It's that his painful rib cage might make him alter his mechanics, which in turn could cause a shoulder or elbow injury -- and that, folks, would be a true travesty. So, in a way, Ribgate is a moot point going forward, at least until the Padres make a series out of this thing. For now, their ace is relegated to the dugout. "I'll just be rooting on the boys as a cheerleader," Peavy said. Eh, Jake, please lay off the pyramid cheer this time, though. We don't need Ribgate Part II.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.