Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was making all sorts of cryptic comments about why left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo was going on the disabled list, which led to speculation that the problem could be anything from a serious health condition to a violation of copyright laws. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times solved the mystery:
I'm told Kuo's issue is psychological. Related to the yips he had a couple of years ago.
The "yips" isn't a clinical term, but that's because know nobody knows what in the heck they are. Steve Blass suffered from them when he couldn't throw a strike, and they affected Mackey Sasser when he couldn't throw the ball back to the pitcher. More recent cases include Rick Ankiel when he was a pitcher, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. No one knows where they come from, but the yips have derailed more than a couple of careers. The scary news -- or good news, if you want to look at his previous comeback being a reason for optimism -- is that Kuo has had them before:
Kuo took advice from his teammates and coaches. He talked to two sports psychologists. He was sent to the Dodgers' spring-training facility, where he once misfired a pitch and drilled a trainer in the neck during a bullpen session. The trainer was at least 30 yards away, walking across an adjacent practice field.
It's a rough story for one of last season's best relievers, and it explains why Mattingly wasn't exactly sure how to phrase what was going on. No one really knows what's going on.