As Phillies chase playoff berth, LHS grad tends to their injuries
By Pat Murphy
In case you do not know it, 1987 Laurel High graduate Scott Sheridan is having a summer of memories most of us can only dream about. Sheridan is the trainer of the Philadelphia Phillies, currently three games out of the division lead in the National League East. The baseball team has done this despite a rash of injuries unheard of in professional sports – and that's where this Laurel High School graduate comes in. He has become the team's "MVT" – most valuable trainer. Scott played Little League baseball and other sports while growing up in Laurel and on the high school team was a curve-balling, left-handed pitcher. He also played on the Bulldogs 1986 championship football team, under coach Mike Norton, a memory Sheridan cherishes. It was during those football days, particularly in 1985, that the foundation for Sheridan's career in sports medicine was launched. Chip Venables had a wrist fracture and Sheridan was very interested in the treatment of the injury and the rehab that followed, to get the player back on the field. He even visited A.I. DuPont Hospital for children, Wilmington, where many sports injuries are treated, with Venables. "That's pretty cool," thought Sheridan, not knowing that a career in sports medicine was to follow. But follow it did, as Sheridan graduated from West Chester University in 1991, with a bachelor of science degree in athletic training. He went to work at Chester County Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy Clinic as a certified athletic trainer. Sheridan also got his master's degree in physical therapy from Neumann College during the 11 years he spent at Chester County Orthopedic, treating players and high school athletes for their injuries. It was here that he developed a friendship with long-time Phillies trainer Jeff Cooper, not knowing that someday he would fill his shoes. Sheridan stills keeps in contact with Cooper, who is now retired. While working at the clinic, one of the most famous athletes Sheridan treated was Curt Shilling, who then was with the Phillies and who later led the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox to the World Series. Shilling had severe shoulder problems, but under the care of the clinic and Sheridan he came back big, striking out 300 batters the first season after his injury. Sheridan also got former Phil's catcher Mike Lieberthal back to action some years ago after a meniscus tear, a common injury for catchers, according to Sheridan. Others he treated while at the clinic included Phillies Tyler Green, Kevin Stocker, Pat Burrell and Scott Rolen. Sheridan's plans to someday open his own sports clinic fell by the wayside in October 2002, when the Phillies, after meetings with Sheridan through Cooper and Susan Ingersall, announced that Sheridan was to become the Phillies Minor League Coordinator of Trainers. Sheridan would be based in Florida. His new job was announced in the Oct. 9 edition of the "Philadelphia Inquirer" and "USA Today." "This opportunity took me completely by surprise," said Sheridan. He was to coordinate all trainers, at Lakewood, N. J., Clearwater, Fla., Batavia, N.Y., Reading, Pa., and the Triple A Club in Scranton, Pa. After moving and getting his wife, Deb, and 2-year-old son, Scotty, settled, Sheridan found himself on a plane heading back to Philadelphia with Phillies brass, including Cooper, former general manager Ed Wade, former manager Larry Bowa, Dallas Green, the late John Vukovich, Reuben Amero Jr. and others in the Phillies hierarchy. Sheridan said that on that plane ride, he almost had to pinch himself to make sure the experience was real. "I kept thinking, what am I doing here? I tried not to be in awe." Sheridan took over as Phillies trainer this season, after the retirement of Cooper. Even after his first busy year as the Phil's trainer, his feelings about the organization have not changed. "The organization is great – they have treated me unbelievable," he said. "Read all you want, you just can't believe how well they treat me. I am very fortunate." As the Phils' training coordinator, Sheridan was in Philadelphia in April 2003, sitting in the dugout, relieving then trainer Cooper, who was on vacation, when Phillie pitcher Kevin Millwood threw a no-hitter. A famous dugout photo shows Sheridan sitting beside the Phils' pitcher during the game. Now, as the Phillies chase a chance at the World Series, Sheridan has a front row seat from the dugout and is ready to spring onto the field in a second's notice if a Phillies player should go down with an injury. Mark Anderson is Sheridan's assistant. Long time employees of the Phillies at the ball park cannot remember a year when there have been as many injuries as the players have had this year (see list below). The Phils have used 28 different pitchers to date and Sheridan has worked hard to get them back on the mound. One of these pitchers is Sheridan's friend and Phillies ace, lefty Cole Hamels. Hamels experienced elbow problems and went on the disabled list in the middle of the heated National League East race. Sunday morning, Aug. 26, there was Hamels, with ice packed heavily around his shoulder and arm, leaving Sheridan's trainers room as Scott Eaton another pitcher entered. It has been that kind of year for Sheridan as his services have been in great demand. "I have spent more time with Cole than anybody else," including time spent with the pitcher in Florida treating him after an earlier injury, Sheridan said. "He has hung out with me, he is a very competitive person." Phils manager Charlie Manuel supports Sheridan's efforts and if Sheridan says the player is not ready he does not play. "Obviously it is a group effort, everybody is a part of making things better," said Sheridan. When asked if the games affect him any, Sheridan, in his always low-key tone, said, "Sure I get caught up in it. When we win – I win. When we lose – I lose. Yes, I take it home with me. I am glad it's a one-hour drive to home." During the season, Sheridan works 10- to 15-hour days and is gone for 81 road games each year, in addition to spring training and meetings. Sunday before the San Diego home game, a call to Sheridan at 8 a.m. found him at his office in the ball park. Game time that day was 1:35 p.m. and it was perhaps 6 p.m. or so when he headed home. "This is what I want to do," said Sheridan. When they made their decision on his career, Deb Sheridan said, "Let's go for it," her husband said. "She has encouraged me to do what I wanted in life," he added. "Without her, this would not be the same."
Sheridan has not forgotten his roots either. In an earlier story he recalled many of his LHS classmates. "We had a great class," he said. Some of his close friends were Danny Alvarez, David McCants, Chip Venables and Kevin Wheatley. Sheridan also talked about the work eithic his mom and dad, Paul and Judy Sheridan, instilled in him as well as the values that have been so valuable to him. Sheridan has a brother, Mark, and sister, Ann Hill, who both live in Laurel. His grandfather, Avery Owens, passed away several years ago, but his grandmother, Helen Owens, is very proud of Scott. Asking her about him lights her up like a Christmas Tree. "Avery is one person I would have liked for Scotty and Debi to have seen and for him to see what I am doing," said Sheridan. Sheridan misses being away from his family, but as he says, "I love what I do. I plan to stay as long as they will keep me.". One thing for sure: When Sheridan goes to his class reunion and tells his classmates that his job is taking care of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, they can believe it, because as Sheridan says, "There is nothing I would rather do than be around sports."
The Phillies and their injuries A number of Phillies players have spent time on the disabled list this season. Three players, Freddy Garcia, Ryan Madson and Jon Lieber, each has had two stints on the D.L.
Injured players and their injuries are:
Rod Barajas (groin strain)
Michael Bourn (sprained left ankle)
Freddy Garcia (biceps tendonitis, strained right shoulder)
Tom Gordon (right rotator cuff strain)
Ryan Howard (strained left quadriceps)
Jon Lieber (biceps tendonitis, ruptured tendon in right foot)
Ryan Madson (strained oblique, strained right shoulder)
Scott Mathieson (Tommy John elbow surgery)
Brett Myers (strained right shoulder)
Francisco Rosario (strained right shoulder)
Chase Utley (broken right hand)
Shane Victorino (strained right calf)
Jayson Werth (strained left wrist)
Mike Zagurski (ankle)
Cole Hamels (elbow soreness)
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