As the Padres' head athletic trainer, Todd Hutcheson’s job is to keep players in top condition to compete. He offers an inside glimpse into his special role with the team.
Q: What does a head athletic trainer do?
A: “I head the team’s sports medicine department, which includes assistant trainer Paul Navarro, physical therapist Rick Stauffer, massage therapist Phillip Kerr and strength and conditioning coach Brett McCabe. We not only take care of injuries that happen on the field, but the biggest part of our job is preventing injuries before they happen.”
Q: What treatment methods do you use?
A: “We use many different techniques. Lots of soft tissue work (deep massage or manual release techniques on muscles) to improve range of motion and relieve tightness and soreness. We have hydrotherapy pools so players can do hot-cold contrasts (to aid muscle recovery). We also do joint mobilizations, manual therapy, taping and different ways of padding things.”
Q: How often do you interact with players?
A: “We see most of our pitchers daily in the training room. We review reports on their activity and evaluate their tissue soreness and tightness and treat them based on that information. With all players, we make an atmosphere where guys feel comfortable coming in for treatment. We’re constantly asking them how they feel, so we can try to nip anything before it gets out of hand.”
Q: What are your biggest challenges?
A: “Professional baseball players are geared toward performing. Sometimes injured players push to get back in the lineup and we need to hold them back to keep them from doing too much too soon, and having a setback. Also, each player has his own opinion on what they call pain versus normal soreness, so determining which level each guy is at can be difficult.”
Q: What part of your job is most rewarding?
A: “Working with a player who thinks he has a possible career-threatening injury. Being able to evaluate, treat and resolve the problem, without surgery. And finally, seeing that player return to an elite level of performance.”
Q: What’s the role of the team’s doctors?
A: “We’re in constant contact with Scripps Clinic physicians. They cover all of our home games and we talk by phone daily from the road. As we treat players, we determine whether they need to be seen by a physician. Scripps doctors are always available, and they go above and beyond to take fantastic care of our players, families and front office.”
To find a Scripps physician, call 1-800-SCRIPPS.