09/01/09 9:18 PM ET
Braden not optimistic on return in '09
Southpaw's injured toe not healing quickly enough
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
Braden, on the disabled list since Aug. 1 with what's morphed from a rash near his left big toe into an infection and, finally, into nerve damage, took it a step further with an hourglass analogy.
"Not looking good, bro," Braden said Tuesday before the second game of a three-game series against the visiting Royals at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. "The sand is at the bottom."
A neurologist visit last week brought to light the seriousness of Braden's situation: A nerve has been severely "traumatized," essentially extinguishing his long-held hope that he'll pitch again this season.
"It's still attached; that's the good news," he said of his foot. "The bad news is that whatever good I might get out of pitching any time soon is far outweighed by the pain I'd feel and the potential damage I could do. I'm not even throwing at all right now, and I won't for a while.
"So do the math. It's just not going to happen."
Oakland's Opening Day starter, Braden, 26, emerged as a consistent performer and a strong, colorful clubhouse presence in his first full season in the Majors. He went 8-9 with a 3.89 ERA in 22 starts despite ranking near the bottom of the American League in run support per nine innings for much of the first half.
"It stinks, but what can you do?" he said. "It's not like it's something I could have prevented. I got an allergic reaction from a [neoprene] sleeve I wear to protect the toe when I drag it, and it just kept getting worse and worse to the point that we're at right now.
"Better to let it calm down, take care of it during the winter and, hopefully, come back next spring good as new."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.