My very first post on Lasorda’s Lair back on October 28th, 2011 was after the appointment of Dodgers’ head athletic trainer Sue Falsone. Now almost two years later, unfortunately I have to report that Sue Falsone will not be returning to the Dodgers next season in any capacity. On a day which also included reports of the Dodgers signing Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero, a press release which described Matt Kemp‘s ankle surgery (his second procedure since the season ended), and an awkward press conference between Don Mattingly and Ned Colletti which spurred rumors of Mattingly’s stubborn ultimatum, the news of Sue Falsone’s departure as head athletic trainer seemed to top off the whirlwind Dodgers news day.
Sue Falsone became the first female head athletic trainer of a major American sports team when the Dodgers hired her two years ago. Over those two seasons the Dodgers have suffered a plethora of various injuries, but some were freak accidental types (Carlos Quentin smashing into Zack Greinke‘s collarbone, Hanley Ramirez‘s fractured rib caused by Joe Kelly‘s fastball in the NLCS, etc.). Although the injuries could be blamed partially on the athletic staff and team physician’s, Sue Falsone’s breakthrough role was inspirational not only to women in the sports field, but women in general.
Sue Falsone had this to say upon the announcement of her departure:
“It is with a heavy heart to say that I will not be returning to the LA Dodgers in order to pursue other opportunities within my career. I would like to thank ownership, Ned Colletti and Stan Conte for the incredible opportunity they have given me, not only over the last two years as the head athletic trainer and physical therapist, but for the six years I have been involved with the organization. To be a part of such a storied organization has truly been my honor.
I’d like to thank Don [Mattingly] and the coaches for welcoming me as part of their staff. I’d like to thank fans for their incredible support they have shown me in so many ways. And finally, thank you to the players and their families for allowing me to be a part of your lives and healthcare. You are truly the reason I do what I do.”
Sue not only was the head athletic trainer for the Dodgers for the past two seasons, but she was previously a physical therapist on the training staff, and she was employed by the Dodgers for six years. When the Dodgers hired Falsone in 2007 prior to the 2008 Dodger season, she became the first female team physical therapist in Major League Baseball history.
Apr 11, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke (21) is checked out by trainer Sue Falsone as first base coach Davey Lopes (center) looks on after a bench clearing brawl resulted following San Diego Padres left fielder Carlos Quentin (not pictured) being hit by a pitch during the sixth inning at PETCO Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
While Sue has came under criticism from fans due to the shocking abundance of Dodger injuries, especially in the first half of the 2013 season, there has been no direct correlation that the training staff was at fault for the frustrating Dodger disability stints. In fact many players have publically recognized her training skills, and Hanley Ramirez praised her conditioning routines. Ramirez had many hours of treatment prior to each game during the season in order to play through his multitude of injuries.
Whether you blame Sue and the training staff for the injuries or not, Sue has become a role model for women in the sports world and for women in general who have the goal of pursuing a career in a male-dominated industry.
Sue remains Vice President of Performance Physical Therapy and Team Sports for Athletes’ Performance Institute (API) in the Phoenix, Arizona area.