Monday, July 16, 2012

Clay Buchholz and Toradol

The Gordon Edes story on has stuck in this observer's craw for a day now. Edes' report mentions that Clay Buchholz has foregone the use of pain relievers since his bout of esophagitis that landed Buchholz in the hospital for internal bleeding. Esophagitis is caused when one's own stomach acid eats at the lining of the digestive track. Edes goes on to state that Buchholz had been injected with Toradol for two or three of his starts and that reportedly, two other pitchers on the Red Sox regularly use the injections. This, folks, is frightening.

It is fair to state that most prescription medicines have side effects. When watching drug commercials on television, it is a wonder that we take any at all with all the warnings we are given. But in a description of Toradol, one website gives this description on its usage:

"Toradol is used short-term (5 days or less) to treat moderate to severe pain, usually after surgery. It is used alone or in combination with other medicines."

This writer's wife is a Registered Nurse. And she agreed that Toradol is never used long term and is most frequently used by hospitals after operations. The website linked above also goes on to list one the side effects of the drug as follows:

"Toradol can also increase your risk of serious effects on the stomach or intestines, including bleeding or perforation (forming of a hole). These conditions can be fatal and gastrointestinal effects can occur without warning at any time while you are taking Toradol. Older adults may have an even greater risk of these serious gastrointestinal side effects."

Sounds like what Buchholz was dealing with, no? A little research was done on if this injection was common in sports. And what was found was a large expose on Toradol in the New York Times back in April of this year. The Times article indicated that Toradol use exploded in baseball a few years ago and at one time two to three starting pitchers on each team were getting the injections before their starts. The article goes on to say that usage has waned and it is down to one or two starters per staff.

Again, such information is quite disturbing on several levels. First, there is no information on the long-term effects of taking such injections over time. Second, the injections are administered by doctors, so doctors have to sign off on prescribing injections that are outside the realms of what Toradol is recommended. And lastly, it goes to show that with so much money on the line, ballplayers will do anything to keep doing what they are doing.

How are such injections different from HGH, which is also medically prescribed? What makes such regular injections not a performing enhancing drug? Why has such usage gone without notice by Major League Baseball and the players union?

The story arc in Boston is that Clay Buchholz was badly influenced by Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. Buchholz, the younger of the trio was said to be a follower of those other two, more experienced starters.  This meme was hugely stated in the beer and chicken flap after the Red Sox' September collapse. Can we guess by association that we know who the other two users of Toradol are in the Boston rotation?

How is this scenario any different than players being persuaded to take other performing enhancing drugs by their peers? The Times article mentioned that a group of NFL players tried to sue the NFL because Toradol injections were administered in "cattle call" type fashion without informing the players the risks involved.

Again, this is all very frightening. We have a drug being injected regularly to at least starting pitchers. A doctor has to administer and prescribe the injection. The regular injections fall outside the recommended usage of the drug. This is scary. And it just goes to show us once again that players will always look for ways to be better or keep their edge no matter the risks. The mindset explains to the rampant use of steroids in the previous era and of greenies in the era before that. This observer has watched a lot of Yankee games. Before each game, the head trainer walks around and passes something to each player which is then taken orally with water. Even Jeter. What is it? How can we know? Is it safe? Do the players know what they are doing? It could just be a salt pill or an Advil. But what if it isn't?

Writers of the BBWAA have taken a holy stand against the previous generation of stars when it comes to Hall of Fame votes. This site will never agree with such a stance. In light of the Toradol usage and other things we do not hear about, medicine is abused in every generation of ball players to get an edge or keep their edge. For this writer, that gives the steroid users a pass. What is more important here is that the league and the union need to be vigilant that baseball players do not ingest or get injected with stuff that can be bad for them or which have not been tested properly on what happens if usage falls outside the intended drug's parameters.

1 comment:

Norm Robillard said...

Hi Clay,
Excellent blog, especially the Clay Buchholz article. I gave you credit for breaking the story on my site where I wrote about Clay's condition. You can find the article at:


Norm Robillard, Ph.D.
Founder, Digestive Health Institute

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