Replaceability, Contingency, and Get Well Soon

Contingency Plan – An alternative for action if things don’t go as planned or if an expected result fails to materialize. [The Ohio State University]

When the Padres signed right-hander Doug Brocail this winter, I lumped the transaction in with several other moves, writing that I didn’t want to waste an entire entry on the likes of Brocail, or words to that effect. As a ballplayer, his accomplishments don’t present a particularly compelling tale — certainly no more so than those of, say, Jay Witasick or Antonio Osuna.

Brocail is, by all outward appearances, a generic middle reliever. A cog in the machine. A replaceable part.

But tell me about 99% blockage of the left anterior descending artery, invoke the names of former big-leaguers Darryl Kile and Rick Mahler, and I start to pay attention. You see, I don’t care all that much about Brocail as a pitcher — his repertoire and statistical record are virtually instinguishable from those of hundreds of other guys; I’m just as happy with Steve Reed or Scott Sullivan.

An angioplasty, on the other hand, is a different story altogether. Now we’re not talking about a pitcher, we’re talking about a guy with a family and a life to live.

I don’t know Brocail from Adam, and I couldn’t tell you anything about what kind of person he is, but in the wake of Kirby Puckett’s recent untimely passing, I expect I’m not the only one with mortality on the brain, so to speak. So tell me about nipping a heart problem in the bud and I’m on the edge of my seat.

Replaceable part, indeed.

People ask whether Brocail will pitch again. I say, Who cares? Not that it doesn’t matter, but dammit, he’s alive, and at the risk of sounding corny, that’s pretty special. Anything else is gravy.

As for who will fill Brocail’s spot in the Padres bullpen, there are plenty of options in camp. Plenty of contingency plans. I expect the situation will resolve itself one way or another, and in the grand scheme of things it won’t make much difference.

Meantime, here’s wishing Doug Brocail a speedy recovery and, if possible, a return to pitching for the Padres. If the latter turns out not to be in the cards, he’s always got life to fall back on.

I’d call that a solid contingency plan.

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