Oswalt hurt, questions about future loom after loss


Thursday, June 23, 2011
Posted: 11:14 p.m.Updated: June 24, 12:27 a.m.

By Jim Salisbury


ST. LOUISThe Four Aces might be down to three.

Roy Oswalt left Thursday nights startan ugly 12-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinalsafter two innings with lower back soreness.

He said hes been bothered by the condition for a while.

He said, I feel it when I sit down, stand up, walk, pitch, sleep.

He doesnt know when hell pitch again.

If ever.

You throw as long as you can and when you cant throw anymore you dont, the 33-year-old pitcher said after the game. Hopefully its not to the point where I cant throw anymore. If its at that point, you just have to accept it.

Oswalt said he will have an MRI on Mondaydoesnt that seem a little far off for something this serious?and if the examination brings the type of news that puts his career in jeopardy

Ive had a pretty good one, Oswalt said with resignation.

Oswalt has a history of back problems. He spent a little over two weeks on the disabled list with a back issue in late April and early May. He has come back to make seven starts, but the velocity on his fastball has been down a tick or two, and hes had trouble riding his pitches by hitters.

Oswalt said he continued to pitch through the problem because, I dont want to be labeled a quitter. He said he realized during Thursday nights brief outing that he was not helping the team. Im kind of a liability more than anything.

Oswalt said he has had a lot of cortisone injections in his back over the years, and he sounded like he wasnt sure another one would be best. He would not say if he had had one this season. He added that he had an MRI on his back a year or two ago when he was with Houston. He said doctors would compare Mondays MRI to that one.

Oswalt said the previous MRI showed two degenerative discs.

I dont know if its gotten to the point where its bulging, he said. Hopefully not.

Well see where its at and if I have to get it fixed, Ill get it fixed.

Oswalt has a mutual option for next season at 16 million. The team can buy out his contract for 2 million. Or he can walk away and get 2 million. The other three acesRoy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Leeare all under control for next season.

All of this is down the road. For now, the Phillies need a starting pitcher Wednesday night against Boston. The likely candidate is Kyle Kendrick, who relieved Oswalt on Thursday night and allowed two runs in four innings. Joe Blanton, who opened the season as the No. 5 starter, is on the DL with an elbow injury. He is still more than a monthfrom returning -- if everything goes well in his recovery.

Oswalt gave up a home run in the first inning and three runs in the second. From the dugout, manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee sensed he didnt look right. Dubee spoke to Oswalt after the top of the second inning, and Kendrick got up in the bullpen.

Hes had trouble for quite a while, Manuel said. This started back in Arizona in April.

Im concerned because this has been going on for quite a while, Manuel said. Im definitely concerned about it.

Hes close with his fastball, but hes had to rely a lot on command and hitting spots now. That might be because of the trouble with his back.

Oswalt said the pain flared during his last start on Friday in Seattle.

It bit me when I threw a changeup, he said.

Oswalt sat dejectedly in front of his locker after that game.

He said he felt the pain again early in Thursday nights game.

It was a little worse, he said. I was more heaving the ball than throwing it. It was no good keeping me out there.

The Phillies never recovered from the early deficit.They finished a six-game road trip at 3-3. But with one of the Four Aces now out indefinitely, the trip seemed even worse than that.

E-mail Jim Salisbury at jsalisbury@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSalisburyCSN.
Related: Oswalt hits 15-day DLPhillies notes: Reliever Contreras out 4 to 6 weeks

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