Gooden Pitched With A Hernia


Dwight Gooden and the Cleveland Indians kept it a closely guarded secret. Gooden pitched with a hernia in the right side of his groin for two months and endured pain that sometimes brought him to tears.

"It was tough," Gooden told The Plain Dealer, in a story published Thursday. "I felt like I'd played a football game after every start. Any fast movement I made could really hurt."

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Gooden will have surgery in about two weeks in Tampa, Fla., where he lives.

The 33-year-old Gooden said he wanted to keep pitching because surgery would have eliminated any chance he had to pitch in the playoffs. He left a start against the Kansas City Royals on Sept. 15 because of the hernia and was in tears at the prospect of going on the disabled list.

He wanted to keep the condition secret because he could not field his position adequately and didn't want other teams intentionally taking advantage of him.

Indians manager Mike Hargrove was aware of Gooden's hernia, and the team's trainers provided Gooden with a belt he could wear to help control it. Gooden took medication for pain.

Even

Dwight Gooden
Dwight Gooden is scheduled to undergo hernia surgery in two weeks. (AP)
with the injury, the 1985 Cy Young Award winner was Cleveland's most effective starting pitcher the second half of the regular season. He was 6-3 in 15 starts after the All-Star break. After opening the season on the disabled list with an arm injury, his overall season mark was 8-6 with a 3.76 earned run average.

"Overall, it definitely affected me. I push off the mound with my right leg. If I threw a pitch and felt it, it made me afraid to push hard off the mound on my next pitch," he said.

In his final star in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, he allowed three runs in 4 2-3 innings as the New York won 4-0. He said he aggravated the injury while making a play at first base in the third inning.

Hernia problems are not new to Gooden, who missed most of 2 1/2 months with the Yankees in 1997 because of a hernia on his left side.

Gooden is under contract for next season and will be paid about $2.6 million.

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