Roy Oswalt: Has He Thrown His Last Pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies?

Susan Cohen-DicklerCorrespondent IIJune 24, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 17:  Roy Oswalt #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after giving up a solo home run in the fifth inning to Cody Ross #13 of the San Francisco Giants in Game Two of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 17, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

This is not the season Roy Oswalt was hoping for.

The Phillies all-star pitcher has had his struggles both on and off the field. On the field he has been plagued by back pain and ineffectiveness. Off the field his family home was badly damaged in tornado-ravaged Mississippi. And last night he had to leave the game after only the second inning with tightness in his lower back.

It was Oswalt's eighth start since returning May 17 from a stint on the 15-day Disabled List with lower back inflammation. Since then he has struggled, going 1-5 with a 4.06 ERA.

This is not the season Roy Oswalt was hoping for.

He never looked comfortable on the mound last night and Oswalt admitted after the game that he had back discomfort in his last start in Seattle as well. But Oswalt is an old-school guy who doesn't like to let his team down. He's used to pitching with pain and he's not a complainer.

"I don't want to be labeled a quitter," Oswalt said in comments to the media after the game.  "Everybody goes through aches and pains and I thought maybe I could push through and make it to the All-Star break and maybe get a few more days off, but I didn't quite make it."

Oswalt has struggled with back pain all season but this is not a new problem. Last year he had an MRI that showed two degenerated discs in his back—not a good injury for a pitcher who used to overpower hitters with his 95 mph-plus fastball; a fastball that has eluded him this year.

This is not the season Roy Oswalt was hoping for. 

Roy Oswalt has always been a gamer. He played left field in one memorable 16-inning game last year when the Phillies had run out of bench payers (of course the first fly ball came his way and he handled it like a pro). He also volunteered to pitch in relief in a playoff game against the Giants last year with a not-so happy ending.  But he has always been a payer who puts team first. As he will now.

"I'm going to do what's best for the team," Oswalt said. "If I can't pitch, I can't pitch. I'm not going to keep gong out there and keep being a liability to the bullpen to have to pick me up."

No decision has yet been made as to whether Oswalt will go back on the DL. He will have an MRI on Monday and will most likely miss at least his next start. And given his history and the fact that he admits to being in pain a lot of the time. "When I sit down and I stand up, when I walk, pitch sleep," he said. Even Oswalt has concerns for his career.

"I've had a pretty good one," he said with a laugh last night. "You throw as long as you can throw, and when you can't throw no more, you can't throw no more. I'm going to keep throwing as long as I can, and hopefully it's not gotten to that point where I can't throw no more. But if it's gotten to that point, you just have to accept it."

This is not the season Roy Oswalt was hoping for.