2006 NEWS

2006 News > 8/22/06


By Mike Bauman, MLB.com
Original Article HERE.

NEW YORK -- The medical news was good, not only for Tom Glavine and the New York Mets, but for the game of baseball.

Glavine is one of the greatest pitchers of this generation, but he is also one of the game's class acts. The fact that he can continue to pitch for what is almost certainly a postseason club, and that he can continue to pursue 300 victories, will not make life any easier for the rest of the National League, but it remains a positive development.

Glavine felt coldness in his left ring finger after his last start. What was thought to be a possible blood clot in his left shoulder turned out to be, after extensive testing, a less threatening buildup in an artery due to the long-term damage that can be created by pitching professionally for two decades.

Rather than requiring surgery, the condition can be treated with medications, one of which is nothing more complex than baby aspirin, acting as a mild blood thinner. Rather than being out for the rest of the season, or even having his career ended, Glavine could return to the mound by next week.

When the good news hit the Mets clubhouse at Shea Stadium on Tuesday, there was relief all the way around, both on a professional and personal level.

"He's one of the leaders on this team," third baseman David Wright said. "He anchors our pitching staff and he's great with the young guys. We need him as much in the clubhouse as a leader as we do every fifth day."

"Great news on Tommy, huh?" was the way manager Willie Randolph started his pregame session with reporters.

Glavine, 40, has won 287 games in his career. He is 12-6 with a 3.93 ERA this season, but the more telling fact is that the Mets are 19-7 in his starts.

Clearly, the Mets could not be the same without him. Their lead in the NL East is such -- 13 1/2 games going into Tuesday night's game with St. Louis -- that it is difficult to imagine them losing it, even without Glavine. But their postseason chances would be greatly diminished if he could not pitch.

Glavine was generally his usual matter-of-fact self when he spoke about his condition on Tuesday, but he did acknowledge some anxiety.

"I'm relieved," he said. "There's still a little bit of anxiety from going through what I went through the last few days, and the uncertainty of it. It's certainly a great feeling, knowing I can go out there and continue to pitch and get back on the field as soon as I can. From that standpoint, it's great. Hopefully, from here on out, there'll be no more problems."

Glavine's career has been characterized not only by pitching with remarkable effectiveness, but also by pitching with remarkable durability. He believed that even if he had to have surgery for this condition, at age 40, he would eventually return to the mound.

"I don't know that I was ever concerned beyond this year," Glavine said. "I felt relatively good that if I had to have surgery, I'd be able to pitch next year. I don't think I thought this was the end of my career."

But at the same time, this season was Glavine's chance to get back to the postseason for this first time since 2002, his final season with the Atlanta Braves. The surgery, at a minimum, would have ended that opportunity.

"Not that surgery ever comes at a good time, but it seemed like this was the worst of all times," Glavine said.

The whole experience, Glavine said, made him appreciate all the more what he is experiencing with this team. It's a two-way street there, because general manager Omar Minaya said that the whole experience made him reflect on everything that Glavine had accomplished.

In the end, you did not need to be a Mets fan to take a measure of pleasure from the fact that Tom Glavine's season, not to mention Tom Glavine's career, is not going to be derailed. This has been a first-rate career produced by a man whose competitive spirit and tireless work ethic make him a pitching role model. This has been a career built on precision and guile, head and heart.

Glavine has staged a late-career revival this season, playing a large role in a breakthrough season for the Mets and making himself once again a very viable candidate to win 300 games. The fact that he will pitch again -- and relatively soon -- is obviously better news for the Mets than anyone else. But Tom Glavine's presence in the game has been a good thing for the entire game.