Cooper getting the best medicine 'on DL'
Sox pitching coach's odd injury cracks up entire organization
CHICAGO -- The news concerning injured White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper was delivered by general manager Ken Williams before Friday's series opener with the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field.
It was hard for Williams to keep from laughing as he made the statement.
Cooper strained his left hamstring in the visitors' dugout at Dodger Stadium late in Thursday's game during an angry reaction to an umpire's no-call of a checked swing in the seventh inning. Cooper was ejected, and when he went to throw down his pitch counter, he slipped on the follow-through and suffered the injury.
From that point moving forward, Cooper has been the target of good-natured teasing from pretty much everyone on the team. Reliever Octavio Dotel was cruising near the dugout on a scooter that had "Cooper 21" on it, and Williams explained how they were trying to get some leg work involved in Cooper's rehabilitation that currently centered on moving the television remote up and down.
Paul Konerko, the White Sox first baseman, could be leaving on his own injury rehab assignment Sunday to test a strained left oblique muscle. He doesn't expect Cooper to accompany him to Triple-A Charlotte.
"Coop said his rehab will last five years because the program is to lay around and do nothing," said Konerko, in perfect deadpan form. "He's pre-habbing since he's been with the White Sox. It's amazing that happened, because he's been pre-habbing. You just hate to see a pitching coach go down like that."
"Let me tell you something, it was about an eight-hour laugh, and at one point I almost felt sorry for him for the abuse he was taking," Williams added. "If it were anyone else, we probably would have had some sympathy, but it was Coop."
The consistent comical abuse heaped on one of the game's best pitching coaches and clubhouse favorites might have reached its breaking point for Cooper before Friday's game. He started to talk to the media about his injury, when manager Ozzie Guillen yelled from a few feet away in jest about being an embarrassment to the organization.
"I'll tell you what, go talk to him -- he wants to do the talking," said Cooper, who admitted his leg was a little sore, before turning around and limping to the coaches' room.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.