Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Thursday, June 22, 2006

THE JUICE MAN?

Reliever Keith Foulke, on the 15-day disabled list since June 13 due to tendinitis in his right elbow, is still experiencing inflammation and isn't ready to throw yet. Foulke was scheduled to begin throwing on Monday, but his arm wasn't well enough to proceed as planned.

When asked about his recovery, Foulke sounded less than optimistic, saying that he still hoped to make something of the season. The reliever said that he was "unable to touch his face" over the weekend. That can hardly be viewed as a vote of confidence.

The 33-year-old has battled injuries the past two seasons and has appeared in only 72 games. He pitched in that many games in his first year with the Sox, during his run as the closer for the eventual 2004 World Series champions.

This season, Foulke is 2-1 with a 5.63 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 32 innings. Before 2005, Foulke had posted an ERA under 3.00 in six consecutive seasons.

Some have speculated that Foulke's sudden decline could be the result of steroid use, or perhaps other performance enhancing drugs such as human growth hormone (HGH) or insulin-like growth factor (IGF). Who's to say if the rumors have any merit, but Foulke did play in Oakland (the heart of BALCO country), has displayed a volatile personality, and experienced a rapid breakdown after a sharp rise to dominance from mediocrity. It's enough to lead some to wonder if he was on the juice.

We may never know. But then again, new names have been - and will continue to be - revealed as the MLB investigation proceeds. That reality is likely making a number of players very nervous, and perhaps enough to make Keith sweat.

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