Shoulder has Glavine mulling retirement
Inflammation has veteran prepared for worst-case scenario
ATLANTA -- While evaluating Tom Glavine's left shoulder on Tuesday, Dr. James Andrews found an inflamed rotator cuff. Given that the noted surgeon could have found some sort of tear, the Braves left-hander now at least has a chance to delay thoughts about immediate retirement.
But while this diagnosis could in some ways be viewed as encouraging, Glavine came away from this evaluation feeling like the glass is more half-empty than half-full.
"For me now, the glass is probably half-empty simply because I'm frustrated and tired with this whole rehab thing," Glavine said. "But at the same time, being as close as I was, I'm not willing to just say, 'OK, that's it.' I'm willing to put in a little more time. But I'm not willing to put in another six weeks to eight weeks, because by then I'm going to have to start all over again, and I'm not interested in doing that."
Tired of dealing with a shoulder that has bothered him throughout the majority of his storied career, and frustrated by the fact that he was just one inning away from deeming himself healthy enough to make his regular-season debut with Atlanta, Glavine now finds himself facing the reality that he might just be a couple of weeks from announcing his retirement.
"This [shoulder] has logged a lot of innings," Glavine said. "Sooner or later, it's going to tell me I can't do this anymore. I hope this is not what it's trying to tell me. But I'm prepared if it is."
All of the optimism Glavine had gained over the past few weeks was erased when he took a swing during the second inning of his Minor League rehab start for Double-A Mississippi on Sunday afternoon. Suddenly, he felt some of the same shoulder discomfort that was present after some of the batting-practice rounds he experienced during Spring Training.
Only this time, the pain proved significant enough to prevent him from pitching the third inning. More alarming was the fact that the pain was still present when the 43-year-old left-hander awoke on Monday morning.
"In Spring Training it would go away and I'd have no side effects whatsoever the next day," Glavine said. "This time, when I woke up on Monday morning, it hurt just as much."
While repairing a torn flexor tendon in Glavine's left elbow in August, Andrews also cleaned debris from the veteran hurler's troublesome left shoulder. The image produced from Tuesday's MRI exam looked very similar to the one produced from an August exam.
But given the history of Glavine's shoulder, Andrews was expecting to find inflammation. The only surprise would have been the location of a tear that would have provided a more definitive idea about the left-hander's future.
Glavine won't be reevaluated until he undergoes further treatment while resting his arm for the next two weeks. At that time, he believes that he'll have a pretty good idea about whether or not it's time to end his career, which has included 305 wins and two career Cy Young Awards.
"It works better for me to have a timetable to say, 'OK, let's give it this amount of time,' and if we see some progress, then good we know we're going in the right direction," Glavine said. "If we don't, then I think at that point in time we need to sit down and honestly think about how much more I want to go through this and whether or not anything is going to change."
Glavine made 672 starts and compiled 4,361 1/3 innings before making his first career trip to the disabled list last season. While making two more trips to the disabled list and being limited to 13 starts, he grew determined to provide himself the opportunity to experience one more healthy season at the Major League level.
But instead of making his scheduled regular-season debut for Atlanta on Saturday in Pittsburgh, Glavine will find himself wondering if he's reached a point where retirement makes more sense than another lengthy stint of rehab.
"I know I'm tired of rehabbing and I'm tired of doing all of that garbage," Glavine said. "It's certainly frustrating to know that I was as close as I was to coming back and then have something happen swinging a bat."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.