When games can be won and lost on a single pitch or play, fielding a healthy team is crucial for Major League Baseball teams like the San Diego Padres.
Over 30 years ago, the Padres chose Scripps Clinic as their official medical provider. The primary reason they chose us then remains the same today: Scripps is San Diego’s best team for professional athletes and amateurs alike, thanks to unmatched expertise in sports medicine and treating patients for almost any condition or sports injury.
Putting the strongest team on the field requires working together closely in every part of an organization. Whether you’re a weekend warrior competing for the local league championship or a fan of any sport cheering from the stands, Scripps Clinic has the right doctor for you at convenient locations throughout San Diego County.
“We take a team approach in delivering care,” says Heinz Hoenecke, MD, the Padres’ head team physician and a Scripps Clinic orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist. “It works for the Padres and all the patients we care for throughout San Diego.”
Scripps Clinic has more than 600 physicians covering more than 50 medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties. This level of clinical depth offers the Padres access to the most comprehensive health care services, ranging from prevention, to treatment, to physical rehabilitation.
“We not only offer our own expertise, but we also enlist the talents of hundreds of physician specialists throughout Scripps,” says Scripps Clinic’s Jan Fronek, MD, a Padres team physician specializing in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine. “We can address virtually any health-related issue that a patient experiences.”
Integrated care offered through Scripps Clinic helps the Padres get well and stay healthy, while the specialized sports medicine services of Scripps Clinic are designed to prevent, detect, manage and rehabilitate sports- and exercise-related injuries.
Having treated hundreds of Padres players over the years, the team’s Scripps Clinic physicians bring to the exam room or surgical suite an understanding of the physical demands that professional athletes place on their bodies.
“Professional athletes are constantly pushing themselves to the limit,” says Dr. Hoenecke. "When baseball players go out to pitch, they are stressing their ligaments nearly to the breaking point. “Providing care for them requires very close and careful collaboration among player, physicians, trainers and coaches. Together, we decide when the player should give it his all and how many innings he should pitch. With any injury, there is much at stake not only for the player but also for the team.”
Providing sports medicine in pressure-packed situations can translate to better care for patients who have their own set of unique life pressures, whether it’s being a parent, grandparent or life partner.
“In order to help keep the Padres players in top shape, we have to be on top of our game,” says Dr. Fronek. “That high level of expertise and care is provided to every patient who comes to us.”
To meet these demands, Scripps Clinic is home to the latest technologies, approved therapies and the state-of-the-art facilities such as the Donald P. and Darlene V. Shiley Musculoskeletal Center in the Anderson Outpatient Pavilion in La Jolla. Scripps Clinic surgeons perform procedures in our state-of-the-art Scripps hospitals that have been recognized with numerous awards for excellence and quality.
Because San Diego consistently ranks among the fittest cities in the U.S. with many Baby Boomers taking up sports, it’s not uncommon for Scripps doctors to see professional-grade injuries or overuse patterns in patients who avidly compete in amateur and recreational sports. Experience with pro athletes gives Scripps Clinic a unique set of capabilities for the everyday patient including Baby Boomers.
“We are seeing more and more people in their 50s and 60s come into our offices with the same types of sports injuries common in young professional athletes,” says Dr. Fronek. “In their quest to stay healthy and fit, the middle-aged are embarking on more rigorous athletic regimens. That’s resulting in a higher number of traumatic and wear-and-tear injuries. Our experience treating the elite athlete has prepared us to also meet the needs of the average recreational sports or exercise enthusiast.”
While caring for San Diego patients over the past three decades, Scripps Clinic’s partnership with the Padres has only grown stronger.
“We’ve really had a unique opportunity to get to know the players as they progress through their baseball careers,” says Harry Albers, MD, a Scripps Clinic internal medicine specialist and Padres team physician. “These types of relationships can result in better care.”
Scripps Clinic physicians don’t just care for major league players. In many cases, the doctors also treat an athlete’s immediate family and some members of the baseball club’s staff. In addition, the doctors provide consultation services to about 200 players from the Padres’ minor league chain.
It’s a big responsibility and an important role to play – one that brings tremendous satisfaction to Scripps Clinic medical staff that serve as Padres team physicians.
“The collaboration with the Padres has allowed us to meet and treat a unique group of people,” says Dr. Fronek. “People who are able to play at the professional level need more than athletic ability. They have to be so much more, and we feel extremely fortunate that the Padres have chosen Scripps Clinic to provide their care every season year since 1981.”