When Erik Bedard came off the disabled list this month, he made two starts before his left shoulder started hurting whenever he threw a fastball.
"It just got consistently worse, but after my third start I didn't say anything - I didn't want to skip a start," Bedard said today. "We're playing well, we're winning and the team counted on me to be there every fifth day."
Bedard's fourth start was four days ago against Cleveland, and in it he threw 81 pitches in three innings.
"Not good," he said of the effort. "I felt OK warming up, but in the game, whenever I'd max out the fastball, there was a sharp pain, and I didn't have any command of the ball.
"I could throw the curve without the pain. I just assumed it was tendinitis, and that I could pitch through it."
After the game, Wakamatsu, general manager Jack Zduriencik and trainer Rick Griffin met with Bedard.
"I didn't volunteer anything," he said.
Pitching through a little mild discomfort is one thing. Pitchers are always sore somewhere, and they just have to get over it. But pitching through "sharp pain" whenever you try to throw a fastball...people love to speculate about significant injuries being caused by mechanics, but I'd wager that the leading cause of major elbow and shoulder surgeries is pitchers not knowing when to shut it down. Erik Bedard is injury-prone. He's always been injury-prone, and has undergone multiple operations. Fresh off the DL, he noticed pain in his shoulder whenever he threw a fastball. The pain got worse. Bedard then consciously evaluated his situation and decided it would be in everyone's best interests for him to keep pitching without telling the coaches what was going on.
It's great that Erik only wanted to help the team. It's a noble goal, and one that I'm sure many of Bedard's most vocal critics would appreciate. But for all the talk about how pitchers should be their own best pitching coaches, that nobody is more aware of what's going on with a pitcher than the pitcher himself, they sure can be retarded. Erik was aware of his pain and used that information to make the worst possible choice, hurting the team now while endangering his career. Playing with heart is only good when it doesn't run counter to playing with intelligence.