I like Nick Hagadone, and I was glad that he got an early season call-up to the Indians after Rafael Perez was injured. After a solid spring, I thought that Hagadone had earned a spot in the 2012 bullpen. For the first part of the season, he proved that he belonged – as recently as June 8 he still had a sub-3 ERA (2.75) and through much of May, Hagadone kept his ERA under 2. Then things started to fall apart; batters were knocking the ball all over the park and control had become a serious issue. When the Indians gave their reasoning for why Hagadone started the year at Columbus, it seemed that control was one of the major reasons they figured he wasn’t ready for prime time. After his disastrous appearance against the Rays on Friday night at Progressive Field (2 hits, 2 walks, 2 earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning pitched) his ERA ballooned to 6.39. At this point, it seemed like Hagadone had punched a ticket on the Colum-bus and was heading back to the Clippers. ”Good,” I thought, “he can go down there and get things straightened out.”
Alas, Nick Hagadone won’t be working on anything in the minors. That’s because he became so angry after his appearance on Friday night, that he punched a wall and caused significant damage to his pitching hand. The hand is broken and that he’ll see a specialist tomorrow; Hagadone is likely done for the year. Supposedly he feels remorse for the injury beyond his own self-interest, which is probably true. He’s not the first person to lose his cool and punish an innocent wall for his misdeeds, but it doesn’t make the whole thing any less idiotic. The Indians placed him on the disqualified list, which means that he will not receive pay or accrue service time. Scott Barnes has joined the team in his place.
When I complained about Manny Acta recently, Hagadone was one of the major reasons for my griping. I felt that he’d been mishandled, and would end up back in the minors to fine tune and return to success in the majors. On Friday, I was again furious that Hagadone was left to struggle on the mound while there was nobody even warming in the bullpen until the end of the inning. Like the Pirates game I mentioned in the Acta piece, I wasn’t even that mad with Hagadone. He obviously had issues that he needed to work on, and Acta shouldn’t have left him on the mound to drown like that. As I also mentioned before, the counterargument is that Hagadone needed to work through his troubles, but it was obvious he wasn’t going to be able to do that in the majors.
After I first heard about Hagadone this morning, I couldn’t help but think of Grady Sizemore. Here’s a player that would love nothing more than to be on the field playing baseball, but is still sidelined due to his bad luck with injuries. The only thing you could even fault Sizemore with is that he played almost too hard, and eventually it took a toll on his body. Then there’s Hagadone, who is struggling, but healthy – he could’ve fixed his problems with the Clippers and been back to the majors before the end of the summer. Guys like Sizemore would kill to be 100% physically, to avoid surgeries and extensive rehabs. I think that’s what really irks me about this Hagadone incident. Yes, everyone loses their temper, and everyone has done something stupid when they’re frustrated. It was just so phenomenally selfish to do this to yourself when your team is in the midst of a pennant race and could use an additional left-handed arm. He can’t even serve as trade-bait at this point, because what team would want him? This wasn’t a wear-and-tear injury, or some freak accident on the diamond; this was a grown man that had a temper tantrum and couldn’t control his emotions. I felt bad for Hagadone and was really cheering for him to turn things around in Columbus. Now, the earliest he could turn things around will probably be in 2013.