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Mariners Medical Staff Named Best In Baseball

The Mariners Athletic Trainers, Matt Toth, Rick Griffin and Rob Nodine (left-to-right) were honored as the top medical staff in baseball. Also pictured is AAA strength coach Rob Fumagalli.

The Mariners Athletic Trainers, Matt Toth, Rick Griffin and Rob Nodine (left-to-right) kept a watchful eye on Mariners players all season. The group was honored as the top medical staff in baseball. Also pictured is AAA strength coach Rob Fumagalli.

The Mariners Medical Staff, consisting of Athletic Trainers and Doctors, has been named the winner of The Martin-Monahan Award as the best medical staff in baseball. The award is presented annually by RotoWire in partnership with Bleacher Report’s Will Carroll. Head Athletic Trainer Rick Griffin, and his crew, Rob Nodine, Matt Toth and Masahiro Takahura, along with Dr. Ed Khalfayan and Dr. Mitch Storey are not only great guys to work with, but are also among the best in the business. The Mariners strength and performance coaches, led by James Clifford, should also be commended for their part in keeping the Mariners a healthy bunch throughout the years.

Here are some excerpts from the story. Follow the following link to the complete story. Rick and his crew will be recognized at the upcoming Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL.

Maintaining the overall good health of a 40-man roster over a 162-game season is a grueling and often ignored task in Major League Baseball. Each team’s medical staff is taxed throughout the year as they work to not only manage but prevent injuries from derailing a season. Despite their best efforts injuries inevitably occur but the ability to respond to these setbacks and quickly and safely return to players to the field is the benchmark of a truly successful medical team.

Established in 2003, the Martin-Monahan Award was created to honor the MLB medical staff – physicians, Athletic Trainers, physical therapists, and other associated health professionals – that contributed most to their organization. A series of measurements including days lost, injury cost, and multi-year averages, all factor into determining the winner providing tangible evidence of their efficiency and productivity for their often-overlooked and underappreciated contributions.

This season, we are proud to present the award to the medical staff of the Seattle Mariners. Led by Head Athletic Trainer Rick Griffin and Medical Director Dr. E. Edward Khalfayan, the team thrived in their ability to keep their top talent on the field, particularly the pitching staff.

Griffin has held the head Athletic Trainer position since 1983 and worked over 4,000 games for Seattle. He has toured Japan multiple times with the MLB All-Stars and been a spokesperson for MLB’s PLAY Program. His work last season went beyond the players as he was one of the first responders to tend to Seattle manager Eric Wedge following his mild stroke in late July. Griffin and his team have found success in recent years by executing a well-designed game plan and learning from their vast amounts of experience.

The Mariners made nine disabled-list moves all season, the lowest such total in all of baseball. Of these nine moves, only two involved pitchers as promising set up Stephen Pryor and veteran Josh Kinney spent extended periods of time on the DL. Pryor missed 168 games after tearing a muscle in his back and shoulder while Kinney missed 88 games with a rib injury before ultimately being designated for assignment. Starters Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Joe Saunders started a combined 96 games, a total matched or bettered by only five other three-man starting units throughout the MLB.

Due to the hard work of Griffin and the medical team, the Mariners had the second-fewest days lost to injury with 566. Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez was the position player sidelined most frequently as his reoccurring hamstring problems accounted for 125 total games or 40 percent of the total games Seattle position players would miss due to injury. However the loss of Gutierrez was minimized by the surprise production from veteran Raul Ibanez and Dustin Ackley as well as Griffin’s ability to keep the rest of offense on the field.

The effectiveness of the Mariners medical staff also made an impact financially as the team would have the lowest injury cost in the MLB. A low injury cost is a good indicator that the top contributors not only were available to play but rebounded quickly when an injury did occur. Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders were able to overcome problematic injuries and returned shortly after becoming eligible for reinstatement from the 15-day DL.