Oswalt to seek second opinion for back pain


Saturday, June 25, 2011
Posted: 6:22 p.m.Updated: 7:44 p.m.

By John R. Finger

For the first part of the season, the plan for Roy Oswalt had been all about pain management. For the two hours it took for him to pitch a ballgame, Oswalt was able to work around the painful back injury that plagued his season.

But when it got to the point where the pain management was such an ordeal that he was unable to prepare between starts, things had come to a head. In fact, Oswalt said that he has lost about six pounds from all the worrying and stress about the injury.

The biggest thing about it was in between starts. I could get ready from start to start and that had been going on for about three to four weeks, Oswalt said.

According to team physician Dr. Michael Ciccotti, Oswalt has minor bulging of the L4 and 5 discs in his back along with a thickening of the facet capsules of the joints in his back. While with the Astros, Oswalt had mild lumbar inflammation, Ciccotti said, that was treated with exercise. This time, however, exercise alone is not going to cut it.

These are very common things we see in players backs, Ciccotti said.

The treatment suggested by Ciccotti is rest, medication, exercise as well as a series of injections, including a facet and epidural injections.

In the meantime, Oswalt is going to Dallas, Tex. to seek a second opinion with spine surgeon Dr. Drew Dossett.

Depending on that second evaluation, that will determine what course of action we take, whether we choose an injection or another program, Ciccotti said. That can vary from three weeks to five weeks or so, depending on how Roy feels.

What Oswalt will learn is which injection he will have to take. Cortisone is popular amongst athletes, but too many of them can cause side effects later in life.

I dont want to just mask the pain and then go out there and in two months not be able to do what I need to do, Oswalt said. So Im trying to do the best thing for the team and me, also.

Oswalt hasnt felt very good for most of the season. He was placed on the disabled list for the second time of the season on Friday and if the ill health isnt enough, Oswalt took a break from the team early this season to tend to his family after tornadoes ripped through Mississippi. Oswalt was gone for more than a week where he did not pick up a baseball, instead operating a bulldozer to clear fallen trees and the ravages of the storm.

For now, Oswalt is pleased to have a diagnosis and he believes he will be able to pitch again this season.

The biggest thing is they brought me over here to win and I haven't felt like I've given enough back to the team as far as the winning aspect of it, Oswalt said.

At 4-6 with a 3.79 ERA in 13 starts, it was clear that Oswalt just wasnt himself. His innings and velocity dipped noticeably, going just 71 13 innings with just 42 strikeouts. That becomes more evident when compared against the 12 starts he made for the Phillies when he arrived in a trade with the Astros at the deadline. In those 12 starts he piled on 81 23 innings, went 7-0 with a 1.41 ERA, and was clearly the Phillies best starter down the stretch.

This year, the question of retirement surrounded Oswalt. There was some thought that he might just hang em up. Not so, he said.

I think the question was if I could accept retirement. If you have to, you have to. I didnt say I was retiring, Oswalt said. Someone blew it out of proportion a bit. If you cant pitch, you have to retire.

Nevertheless, if he were pitching for a team that was not as good as the Phillies, he might reconsider his future.

I dont want to risk my life after baseball as far as doing different things that you have to worry about every day, he said. I dont want to be on pain killers for the rest of my life.

Surgery at some point is inevitable it seems, according to Oswalt.

Eventually Im going to have to have back surgery at some point, he said. Im just hoping to get later in life where I can do that. I dont want to have it at 33, for sure.

On the bright side, Oswalt could return before the postseason and still be relatively fresh through the final months. Thats kind of a silver lining thing, but its something.

Madson recovering
Closer Ryan Madson remains unavailable for Saturday nights game against Oakland after getting a cortisone shot on Friday. According to Ciccotti, Madson had been unable to grip certain pitches because of residual swelling from getting hit by a batted ball on the hand on May 20.

Hell hold off throwing until Monday or Tuesday, and then well progress, Ciccotti said.

In the meantime, manager Charlie Manuel says the team will use Antonio Bastardo as the primary closer with Michael Stutes in the mix for a save chance depending upon the matchups.

In other injury news, Jose Contreras has a mild strain of the flexor pronator muscle and will not throw for two weeks. Elsewhere, Joe Blanton began throwing up to 100 feet and is scheduled for a bullpen session on Monday.

Brad Lidge threw a bullpen session on Saturday and will do another on Monday.
E-mail John R. Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JRFingerCSN.

Related: Phillies' Manuel admits reliever Madson is hurtBuy Phillies Gear

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