They knew the big right-hander was dealing with a knee condition. Rand said it's patellar tendinosis, a condition known in basketball circles as Jumper's Knee. They knew about it before they acquired him from the Reds last December, according to manager Brad Ausmus, and they treated him during the season as symptoms popped up. Simon said he had a platelet-rich plasma injection last December, before he was traded, but he said the knee flared up again in Spring Training.
"This is a medical condition that he has," Rand said. "We treated it. We did some different things with him conditioningwise to make it easier for him, and obviously he was able to pitch all season."
Simon said he pitched through it because he wanted to avoid the disabled list and make 30-plus starts. He said it affected him at times with a drop in velocity, as well as struggles to keep the ball down in the strike zone while dealing with pain in his landing knee.
"Sometimes I feel like I cannot pitch," he said, "but I don't want to get on the DL, and I have to handle the pain."
Rand said the news surprised him when he received a phone call about it. Ausmus said he heard about the comments, but that Simon hadn't said anything to him, and he hadn't heard anything about it over the course of the season.
"I heard it last night that he said that," Ausmus said. "He didn't say it to me, but I heard him. As many DL stints as you see nowadays in the big leagues, I think a player should be applauded for gutting through it. But I think if there's an injury that's affecting their performance, they should consult trainers or coaches."
The Tigers were aware that Simon was headed back to Detroit to have the knee checked out because they had set it up heading into his offseason program. Simon, who will be a free agent this offseason, said he'll get another PRP injection at that point to help promote healing in the knee.
"He wanted to go home at the end of the season," Rand said, "so what we decided is after he made his last start, fly him back to Detroit and have the doctor see him to prepare him for his offseason. That way, he gets that, he rests, and then he starts his normal offseason conditioning program."
Asked how everything was handled, Ausmus balanced concern over communication with appreciation of Simon pitching all season.
"He wasn't handled because we don't know," Ausmus said. "I mean, if you don't know, how do you handle something? If you don't know, it's tough to do anything.
"I actually applaud him for trying to gut it out. I mean, we needed starting pitching. And maybe it did affect his performance, but there's nothing we can do about it now. He was done pitching when we found out. But I applaud the guy for trying to gut it out. That's not something derogatory. Shoot, I want 25 guys that'll gut it out."