I got a lot of email asking why I extolled the toughness of Brad Radke in yesterday’s column. Radke is pitching through a damaged shoulder, and admittedly, that’s something I would not be in favor of in almost any circumstance. Radke, however, is retiring. At 33, he knows that he doesn’t want surgery and the long rehab. He’s shown he’s willing to pitch, and that he’s able to deal with the pain. For me, that makes it a different proposition. In essence, the Twins have been absolved of their responsibility for keeping him healthy. If this was almost any other pitcher, I wouldn’t have said what I said. There are interesting debates about pitching health and the team’s responsibility: Should a team protect a guy who’s about to hit the free agent market or should they wring out all the value they can? What’s the agent’s role in this?

Powered by the Marriott Revive bed, on to the injuries:

  • David Ortiz has left the Red Sox due to an irregular heartbeat. Ortiz was first reported to be suffering from the problem last week, when the Red Sox admitted that he had been hospitalized briefly because of it. Not much beyond the basics are known at this time, and Ortiz is headed back to Boston for tests. Until he’s cleared to return, he will not play, but due to the date, he will not be pushed to the DL. The Sox can scarcely afford another injury, let alone one to their emotional leader, but this goes beyond baseball–cardiac problems have to be taken this seriously.

  • Apparently, pitchers should just stay out of cars. As reported by multiple sources, Jon Lester injured his back in a car accident. There’s no word yet on how the test results turned out, but there are unsubstantiated whispers that he could be out for the year. This would be due to a combination of injury, workload, and the club’s declining position in the playoff race. Nick Cafardo’s report in the Boston Globe stated that Lester hasn’t made progress. The symptomology is unclear, making those tests the key to understanding and analyzing the injury.

    The team is dealing with a ton of injuries–Lester’s back just adds to the list that includes Josh Beckett (cut finger), Keith Foulke (back), Ortiz, and Wily Mo Pena (wrist.) Those injuries are like weights tied around the club’s waist as they head uphill.

  • When I got the ESPN Mobile alert telling me that Tom Gorzelanny was heading to the DL, I was surprised. There are just a few days until roster expansion, and Gorzelanny had been skipped once already, so roster relief wasn’t imperative. More basically, nothing had changed with Gorzelanny’s elbow. He’s a bit stiff, and the team doesn’t want to take him much deeper. So why the DL? After making calls, I still have no idea. The Pirates don’t always make sense, so I’ll just shake my head and move on. Gorzelanny’s still a keeper. The Bucs also put Mike Gonzalez on the DL with elbow tendonitis. The closer has had off-and-on issues with the elbow much of the season, so this is likely the end of the 2006 season for him.

  • Jim Thome is expected back in the lineup for Tuesday’s game after missing the last four with his hamstring strain. Thome has been remarkably healthy, so the White Sox have done well in both risking the trade and in keeping him on the field. While Thome is not fully healed, they need his bat, so they’ll work on making him as ready as possible with treatment before, during, and after games. He’s not much of a runner to begin with, but expect some doubles to turn into singles, but you can also anticipate a few more homers. Yes, great hitters can often put a bit more loft on their swings when they need to save their legs. Just ask Frank Thomas.

  • I’m really out of words to describe the Carl Pavano situation. This latest debacle is just the icing on the cake: Pavano’s reported oblique injury is, in fact, due to fractured ribs. Pavano pitched after the accident–and pitched well–so this episode fuels the smoldering rumors that Pavano just doesn’t want to pitch. I can’t speak to that, but people inside the game have been whispering that point over the past six months. In all likelihood, Pavano is done for the season, though there’s really no medical reason that he couldn’t pitch. It’s just an odd story all the way around.

  • I know I sound like I’m stuck on repeat, saying “The Mets can be conservative with (fill in the blank) because of their lead.” Today’s multiple-choice answer is Cliff Floyd. Floyd was scheduled to begin playing rehab games at the Mets Florida facility, putting him on track for a return within ten days. Even when he returns, the Mets are sure to spot Floyd pretty conservatively in the lineup, so that they can make sure that his Achilles isn’t a problem come playoff time.

  • Quick Cuts: Julio Mateo fractured his glove hand in a weightlifting accident. He’s done for the season, though he should have no problems next season. Tough end to a nice 2006 … Gary Majewski is having a good rehab. He’ll make one more appearance before rejoining the Reds … Jeff DaVanon left the D’Backs to get a second opinion on his injured ankle. There’s a chance that he’ll need surgery … Lots of questions about the Little League World Series and their new pitch count regulations. If Glenn Fleisig and Jim Andrews signed off on it, do you really think it’d be less than world-class? I’ll have more on this soon.
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