Scoping out the situation
Tigers’ orthopedic consultant Jeffrey Michaelson steps up to home plate for our Opening Day interview
Published: April 3, 2013
Name: Jeffrey Michaelson, MD
Occupation: Orthopedic Sports Surgeon
Employed: Principal at The Core Institute/Porretta Orthopedic Center
Affiliated Medical Center: DMC Sports Medicine
No. Seasons with Tigers: 4
MLB Position: Orthopedic Consultant
No. of Games Attended Annually: 28
Description of Duties: Preseason evaluations of players in both the minor league farm system and major leagues. Game coverage as both home and visiting teams orthopedic surgeon during the season.
Metro Times: Which player do you have the biggest crush on — and not in a gay way — since joining the front office?
Jeffrey Michaelson: No way that’s getting answered; the [hospital] administrators, trainers — and especially the players — would castrate me. I would say, overall, the players and their families, the medical and clubhouse staffs are all terrific people and great to work with. I’ve come to know many of them over the years and always appreciate them making an effort to get to know me.
MT: Which would be worse: Telling Ilitch one of his marquee players is done for the season or pissing off your wife?
Michaelson: As I’m not the team’s head physician, I haven’t had to face this as often as others. While I’m not sure Mr. Ilitch would remember this, but the first time we met I had the unfortunate experience of introducing myself and then having to explain how one of our star players would be out for the season — and would likely need surgery. Two things struck me about that interaction: His seemingly total confidence in the medical staff and our experience and his genuine concern for the players’ well-being. Having said that, my wife is definitely the person I fear more; I would definitely make sure my sleeping bag and tent were in the back of my car.
MT: What’s been one of the scariest moments as a team doctor?
Michaelson: I am also the team physician for a large local high school and, believe it or not, that’s where I am always more worried. When I cover a professional game, I have unbelievable resources at my disposal: multiple trainers, another physician, X-ray and EMS. When I’m on the sidelines of a high school game, it’s a trainer, my head and me. I was an EMT before I went to med school and the first thing you check with an injured patient is your own pulse — just kidding. I hope never to experience a sudden cardiac event on the field; that’s the thing that scares me most. However, I’ve popped my fair share of shoulders, elbows, fingers, knees, kneecaps and open fractures back into place. It’s not always fun when the parents are in the stands watching.
MT: When was the last time a player in the locker room pulled you aside because of some unexplained “rash”?
Michaelson: There’s an accepted amount of hazing that starts when you enter a new situation and, unfortunately, I was the butt of that joke my first year. Usually when I’m asked about a ‘funny’ rash, I have the benefit of reminding the player that I’m an orthopedic surgeon — and I’m confident it won’t need an amputation.
MT: Your oldest son, Connor, is now a teenager … to the best of your knowledge has he employed the, “You know my old man is the Tigers’ team doctor!” to impress the ladies?
Michaelson: My middle two kids definitely think it’s cool; and my oldest, the teenager, is getting too cool for me. Meeting the players, yet not being allowed to ask for an autograph, makes it very cool and very painful. This spring training, my wife and [four] kids joined me at camp, and had a chance to tour and do batting practice with some of our really popular players. The smiles on my daughter and middle son’s faces were the biggest and brightest I’ve ever seen. In that moment, I felt really lucky to be a professional team physician. No question though, my dad gets more mileage out of it than my kids or myself.
MT: Has a player ever requested some “juice”?
Michaelson: It hasn’t happened. It won’t happen. Not saying players won’t try to elsewhere but they would never ask the team physicians. It’s against the rules. They know the answer.
MT: Ever wander into the dugout with a box of Domino’s?
Michaelson: Why would I ever do that? The Little Caesar’s they have in the clubhouse post-game tastes so much better.
Bryan Gottlieb is editor of Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.
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