4:30 p.m., Aug. 15)
Erik Bédard faces uncertain future after undergoing season-ending shoulder
By Fred Sherwin
the second year in a row, Navan native Erik Bedard must undergo season-ending
surgery to repair his dmaged left shoulder. File photo
For the second
year in a row Navan native Erik Bédard's season has come to a premature
end after requiring surgery on his throwing shoulder.
Last year, the
big left-hander fior the Seattle Marriners had to call it a season after
going under the knife to remove a cyst and damaged soft tissue in his left
shoulder after posting a 6-4 record in 15 starts.
a $750,000 raise in the off-season, Bedard was ready to prove that the Mariners
didn't make a mistake when they traded three players to the Baltimore Orioles
for him prior to the start of the 2008 season and signed him to a one year
$7 million contract.
When the Mariners
signed him for another year and gave him a raise to boot, several members
of the Seattle media were skeptical to say the least.
It ddin't help
that two of the players Seattle dealt for Bédard, George Sherrill and Adam
Jones, subsequently made the all-star team.
off to a solid 3-2 start, Bédard suffered a sore hamstring which caused
him to miss a start. When he resumed his spot in the rotation he picked
up wins in three straight starts before being sidelined once again with
inflammation in his shoulder.
He returned to
the active roster on July 17 and had four starts pitching a total of 17
innings. In his last start against the Cleveland Indians, he complained
of soreness in his shoulder again after pitching just three innings.
two more MRIs, before artroscopic surgery finally revealed that he had a
torn left labrum in his shoulder that will require surgery to repair and
four to six months of rehabilitation.
has had a history of injuries most notable an elbow ligament injury in 2002
that required Tommy John surgery and forced him to spend most of the 2003
season in the minors on rehab assignment.
In 2004, he went
6-10 with an 4.59 ERA and averaged almost eight strikeouts per nine innings
pitched. In 2005, he started the season with a 2.08 ERA, but then sprained
his knee which sidelined him for two months. When he returned his ERA balooned
In his first
injury free season in 2006, Bédard was 15-11 and posted a 3.76 ERA.
He also stuck out 171 batters. In 2007, he established himself as one of
the most dominating left-handers in the American League. On July 7, he tied
the franchise record for strikeouts in a game against the Texas Rangers
He went on to
set a new franchise record for strikeouts in a season with 221 and was largely
considered to be a bona fide candidate for the Cy Young Award before a strained
oblique muscle cut his season short once again. He ended up with a 13-5
record and posted a 3.16 ERA.
Rather than go
to salary arbitration and risk having to pay him in the $7-$8 million range,
the Orioles traded Bédard to Seattle. Eighteen months later, the Mariners
are faced with the same difficult decision the Orioles faced, or maybe not.
becomes a free agent this fall. If the situation were normal, the Mariners
could take Bédard to salary arbitration, in which case he would likely command
at least the $7.75 million he's now making, or they could risk having him
signed as a free agent by another team, in which case they would be compensated
with draft picks.
A third option
would be to trade him in the of seasonm, but very few teams would likely
be willing to take on his contract given his history with injuries.
the issue of the Mariners management being left with egg on their faces.
The team has spent $14.75 million for Bédard's services these last two seasons
and he's only won 11 games. To allow him to leave and possibly get nothing
in return would be disastrous, especially considering what rhey gave up
to get him in the first place.
A lot of how
the next few months play out will depend on Bédard's position in the Elias
Free Agent Rankings which are released at the end of the season. The rankings
are based on a player's stats for the last two seasons. In Bédard's case
his ranking will be based on his statistcs from 2008 and 2009.
If he's listed
as a Type B free agent, meaning he's among the top 20 to 40 per cent of
players listed, the Mariners would be given a "sandwhich" pick
between the first and second round of the 2010 Amateur Draft. If he falls
out of the top 40 per cent of the players listed, the Mariners wouldn't
be entitled to any compensation.
is 100 per cent certain, it's at least 99.9 per cent certain that Bédard
will test the free agent waters in his first year of eligibility this fall.
Whether or not anyone will bite is the big unknown.
When he's healthy,
Bédard is still one of the top pitchers in the majors. His 5-3 record this
season is deceiving, given the lack of run support he received. In four
of the 10 starts that ended in either a loss or a no decision, he gave up
one earned run twice and two earned runs on the other two occasions.
The chances are
very good that at least one major league team will take a chance on the
big left-hander, in which case the Mariners will be left with a sandwhich
pick, at best, unless they make him a better offer. Only time will tell.
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