Tigers modify medical and conditioning staff
DETROIT — The Tigers are shaking up their medical and conditioning staff after an injury-plagued 2022 season that included a team-record 17 starting pitchers and a slew of traffic on the injured list. Among the changes, according to the sources:
• Kevin Rand, the team’s senior director of medical services for the past five seasons and a member of the Tigers’ medical staff for the past 20 years, will not be returning. He is on an expiring contract which will not be renewed.
• Doug Teter, who took over from Rand as head athletic trainer ahead of the 2018 season and has been with the Tigers organization for 30 years, will move to a role to be determined in Lakeland, Fla., where the Tigers have their spring training and rehab facilities and where Teter made his home during the offseason. It won’t necessarily be the same role Rand has held, depending on how Detroit reshapes the department.
• Steve Chase, whose 18 years with the organization includes the last two seasons as Major League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, will not be returning.
The moves were expected as part of the organizational assessment that New President of Baseball Operations Scott Harris done since joining the organization in September. Harris’ predecessor, general manager Al Avila, was fired in August amid a disappointing season, helped in large part by injuries to key pitchers and prospects. Former top prospect Casey Mize underwent Tommy John surgery over the summer and is not expected to return until the end of next season at the earliest. Tarik Skubal will miss part of next season after undergoing left flexor tendon surgery. Matt Manning missed much of the season with shoulder inflammation and later a forearm sprain, neither of which required surgery to repair. Alex Fedo returned from Tommy John surgery but was limited to 12 starts before a season-ending hip injury. Joey Wentz missed a good part of the season with a shoulder problem.
The trio of Mize, Skubal and Manning — arguably the heart of the Tigers’ rebuild — have made just 35 combined starts this season. Skubal’s 21 starts and 117 2/3 innings led the staff.
It would be unfair to blame the injury on the Tigers’ medical and fitness staff. Athletic coaches, like other team officials, were barred from contacting players for much of the past offseason until Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement in March meant that many players were out of reach for much of their offseason. training programs and could not report progress or problems. reliever Kyle Funkhouser, who had a problem during his winter training, missed the entire season and underwent shoulder surgery. Add to that shortened spring training, and many around baseball wondered how pitchers in particular would handle the buildup.
Still, the eruption of problems led to looking at the Tigers’ medical system as a whole and determining how it might be equipped to handle the issues.
“I don’t think the injuries can be associated with the strengths and weaknesses of our medical department or our bodybuilding department,” manager AJ Hinch said earlier this month. “It’s been a really tough year, and these guys have been working tirelessly. They were dealing with something every day of the season. We’re going to look at our processes and see where we can improve and what we’re doing well and what we’re doing. are doing below average and trying to fix it all.
In saying this, however, Hinch alluded to a need for synergy between Detroit and Lakeland, where most of the rehab processes take place.
“You saw us sending people to Lakeland all the time. Lakeland has become overwhelmed with humans,” Hinch said, “and quite honestly I think that’s revealed that we can probably improve that department, and I think that’s something the organization needs to look at, at the both in size and strength of our overall program. But it must be completely tied together. The way we run our medical program must be one-sided across the organization.
No move has been finalized in the rest of the department. Assistant athletic coaches and Chris McDonald and Matt Rankin remain on staff and look likely to stay. They have been on Detroit’s staff for three and nine years, respectively, and have been with the organization for more than 20 years each. Assistant strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Rosenhamer has been on staff for three years.
Tigers, Chadd mutually agree to part ways
Beyond the medical and health team, the Tigers continue to shake up the front office. Assistant general manager David Chadd, who has been with the organization since 2004, and the Tigers have mutually agreed to part ways, sources say.
The two sides had discussed a potential new role in the organization, possibly in scouting, before agreeing to move on. Chadd still had two years left on his contract.
Chadd joined the Tigers in 2004 as vice president of amateur scouting and remained in that role for 11 years. Under his leadership, the Tigers drafted Cam Maybin, Andrew Miller, Rick Porcello, Matt Joyce, Alex Avila, Nick Castellanos, Drew Smyly, James McCann, Curt Casali, Devon Travis, Chad Green and Corey Knebel, among others.
Chadd was promoted to become Al Avila’s top assistant once Avila became general manager in 2015. Chadd played an important role in that position before focusing on minor leagues and player development the year last, following the promotion of Sam Menzin and Jay Sartori. as deputy general manager.
Chadd is the second high-ranking member of the Tigers front office to leave this month. The club separated from director of amateur scouting Scott Pleis shortly after the end of the season, according to sources.