No matter what happens in the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Rays, Dr. James Andrews will be on the winning side - and the losing side. That's the upside/downside of having a hand in both teams' success this year.
Andrews, the Alabama orthopedist we recently dubbed “the most valuable player in sports,” is the Rays' medical director. He examines injured players, performs surgery, and advises on their rehabilitation.
But Andrews being Andrews, he also treats Boston's players. When Sox ace Josh Beckett had elbow problems last month, he turned to the elite sports surgeon. Actually, Boston's entire pitching staff follows a conditioning regimen developed at Andrews' clinic in Birmingham. Mike Reinold, the team's rehabilitation coordinator, worked alongside Andrews and physical therapist guru Kevin Wilk for eight years before joining the Sox.
The program, which Boston declined to describe to me in much detail, includes daily strength and flexibility tests. The results help predict where a player is likely to be injured, so he knows where to focus his conditioning. Considering how much money teams lose when players go on the disabled list, an injury prevention program like Boston's could be the game's next Moneyball innovation.
As for the Boston-Tampa series, Andrew told me he doesn't pick sides when he has patients on opposing teams. He roots for an injury-free game.