Posted February 16, 2013

Report: Friction between medical staffers divided Red Sox for years

MLB
Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino (left) and owner John Henry have been involved in the medical staff saga that has divided the team over the past several years. (J. Meric/Getty Images)

Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino (left) and owner John Henry have been involved in the medical staff saga that has reportedly divided the organization over the past several years. (J. Meric/Getty Images)

Former Boston Red Sox trainer Mike Reinold has been at the center of controversy this month, with Curt Schilling accusing Reinold of recommending use of performance-enhancing drugs and Yahoo! Sports reporting that he injected players with the controversial painkiller Toradol — a potential violation of state laws.

According to ESPNBoston.com’s Joe McDonald and Gordon Edes, the controversy surrounding Reinold actually dates back several years, with members of the organization dividing their allegiances between him and former medical director Thomas Gill.

Among those at odds with Reinold were outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who in 2010 publicly accused the trainer of botching a diagnosis of his fractured ribs, and former closer Jonathan Papelbon, who told ESPNBoston.com that he informed then-manager Terry Francona and then-GM Theo Epstein that he would no longer work with Reinold.

“My thing is that [Reinold] thought he knew everything about everything,” Papelbon said. “You couldn’t tell him anything. I don’t know of any players who thought he was a good trainer.”

Starting pitcher Jon Lester defended Reinold, who was let go after the 2012 season, saying that he “loved” him and that he was a “very smart guy.”

“A number” of players, including Ellsbury and former infielder Jed Lowrie, complained about Gill, who was fired after the 2011 season and now serves as the Patriots’ team doctor.

The rift in the medical staff also divided the front office. Principal owner John W. Henry championed Gill, who as his personal orthopedist twice operated on Henry’s shoulder. Henry is also a trustee at Massachusetts General Hospital, where Gill is on staff. The baseball operations staff, meanwhile, backed Reinold. At one point, Epstein fired Gill and tried to transfer his duties to team internist Dr. Larry Ronan and Reinold, but was immediately overruled by Henry.

But the situation became so “toxic” between not only Gill and Reinold but with other members of the medical staff, a source said, that Henry did not stand in the way when Gill was not retained as medical director after the 2011 season. That followed a meeting in which Gill, according to multiple sources, demanded that Reinold be fired.

The team’s medical staff has come under fire in the wake of three consecutive seasons in which it has missed the playoffs. Sixty-four players have spent time on the disabled list during that period, costing them a total of more than 3,000 games.


2 comments
JohnB.Poisson
JohnB.Poisson

Unbelievable! Even medicine and the health of the players was subject to the ravages of politics and factionalism. Has something been done about this, I hope?