Private Trainers – Bet The House On ‘Em?
Yesterday’s MadBum game sucked. Royal. So, I’m not rehashing that HOT mess. Instead, my topic is: What’s the role of a private trainer in MLB? This piqued my interest when Pablo came off surgery rehab directly from 6 weeks under the Giants’ nose — he looked like the Michelin Man wearing a custard-colored Gi with a Black Belt in midnight snacking. Domo arigato, Panda.
First, a definition. A “private trainer” is a third party (not a team trainer or employee) hired by an athlete OR his team to work with the athlete to improve his physical conditioning and/or specific sport’s skills or techniques. You can define it your way, that’s mine. No, Panda’s Mom does not qualify as HIS private trainer. Chef, maybe.
You know these examples, maybe you’ve got more:
1. Prospective NFL draftees engage specialized trainers, now a cottage industry, to get them in shape to ace the Combine tests. 2. Panda worked the 2010 off-season in Phoenix at his own expense to get back in shape with former Bonds trainer Greg Oliver and former decathlete Dan O’Brien. Plus, Panda supposedly hired his own healthy-eats cook — a 1 star “Michelin” chef? 3. In the Clemens trial the Rocket’s private trainer McNamee testified he shot up Clemens and weirdly, also Rocket’s wife (which she admitted). 4. Bonds had Greg Anderson, his connection, and Harvey Shields, his rub down guy, cuckolding Stan Conte to the “hear no evil” Sabes. 5. In Zito’s first Giants’ ST, he showed up with a new motion from Planet Zitoid. That freaked Rags, who put a quick stop to it. This past off-season, both Zito and Alex Smith went to LA for advice from Tom House, the career Pen journeyman who is now somehow a throwing motion expert on things he didn’t master himself. Zito “cratered” early this ST, and jettisoned the House Crouch. But, maybe some of that House voodoo diddoo what it was supposed toodoo given Zito’s subsequent improvement this season. 6. Timmeh shed 20+ pounds last off-season and swamalot, a new thing for him. Did anybody tell him to do that? His Pops? The mirror? Did the Giants approve or supervise that “plan”? There’s a stationary lap pool in Timmeh’s Seattle luxe condo building — so, now the scope of the off-season conditioning program of your Ace, uh former Ace, depends on what’s in his condo building’s training room?
My 10-minute “exhaustive” Internet search didn’t turn up much gossip on this topic. Leading me to believe few care, or at least aren’t talking. Momentarily nonplussed, I trudged ahead anyway and looked at the new MLB Basic Agreement, which is just a few Bezukhovs shorter than War and Peace. I found nothing in the MLBBA about teams controlling private trainers in non-injury situations. Same with the MLB Uniform Player Contract (MLBUPC link below). In general, players must follow the team medicos’ advice and be in condition to play, but players have the right to get second opinions on injuries from their own docs. The club must pre-authorize procedures by non-team quacks and others where there is a player “disability” due to work-related injury. But, where there is a non-work related disability, injury or “condition” (altogether a Non-Work-Related-Injury) no advance notice to the Club or consent by the Club is required for treatment of the player by a non-Club provider unless the NWRI “may affect the player’s ability to provide services” to the Club under the MLBUPC. The Club will not pay for treatment of these NWRI’s by outside parties. That leads me to believe that since Panda reportedly paid for his outside rotundity rehab, his girth is considered a NWRI condition over which the Giants do not have official contractual control – though Panda has no limitation on voluntarily coordinating his outside training (treatment) with the Club.
So far, my conclusion is that the Clubs handle this private trainer activity on a case by case basis, because where no injury is involved, the MLBBA and MLBUPC are non-specific in this area, maybe purposefully. I would argue a team should have greater official control than just “keep us posted” over how the player trains and maintains/improves his skills and techniques with private trainers the player hires, especially during the off season. If Tom House tells Zito in December that he’s got to lower his arm angle and crouch like Carlos Castaneda, then what if that contradicts Rags’ advice? Rags gets paid a lot to tutor the pitchers and build their confidence; he’s got a pretty damn good track record doing that, and he was a lefty. In the tort world, I’d call that interference with contract. To me, the vague to non-existent official Club oversight of private trainers risks injury and anything from slight to major interference in managing the performance of highly-paid players.
If you guys have some inside dope on this, let’s hear it. Tempest in a teapot? Eh, probably. Unless your team has a Frequently Fat Panda and a Failing Freak…
1. MLB Basic Agreement. See Art. XIII E. and G. MLB Uniform Players Contract starts on page 277, see its Regulation 2 on medical care. http://mlb.mlb.com/pa/pdf/cba_english.pdf. 2. Stan Conte and predicting injury: (ironic tidbit at the end about Kemp and his great non-injury history). http://tinyurl.com/7jgqfgv 3. Now, kids get private trainers to improve scholarship chances. http://tinyurl.com/8x62ugx