(Cincy’s Joey Votto, months before he jumped on the anxiety bandwagon)

On the heels of the Palm Beach Post’s Dave George (seriously) suggesting the Tigers convert Dontrelle Willis to an outfielder, let’s consider the recent spate of non-specific anxiety/stress-releated trips to the disabled list, or at least dismiss most of them in the fashion of former Mets team shrink Dr. Allan Lans.  From the New York Times’ Jim Lutrell this past Saturday :

This season, Dontrelle Willis of Detroit and Khalil Greene of St. Louis have been on the disabled list with social anxiety disorder. Cincinnati™s Joey Votto went on the D.L. last week for a œstress-related issue. And of course, Zack Greinke of Kansas City, currently having a breakthrough season, battled social anxiety disorder and depression early in his career.

While few doubt the pressure of playing at the major league level, at least one mental-health professional raised an eyebrow at the growing number of social anxiety disorder diagnoses.

œI™m very suspicious of that diagnosis, said Dr. Allan Lans, a psychiatrist who practices in New York and has worked with athletes throughout his career, most notably as a member of the Mets™ staff. œIt™s not like catching the chickenpox; there has to be a history.

Lans said social anxiety was a real ailment but was being overdiagnosed. Once a player reaches the majors, Lans said, the issue should not be a surprise.

œWhat happens in baseball is that players, day after day, are performing in front of varying size crowds, he said. œAt a certain point, they blank out all that stuff and concentrate on their jobs. Repeated exposure is one of the most successful treatments. So for a guy who has been in the public eye to suddenly have social anxiety disorder is a little off the wall, in my book.

œIn baseball, you don™t hit most of the time and you make errors some of the time. You learn to deal with it. A person with social anxiety disorder would never have played to begin with.