Jon Lester says Toradol is like Advil but more powerful. (USA Today)
The Boston Red Sox announced Monday they're reviewing their policy on Toradol, a legal anti-inflammatory drug used by many players across the league. Several pitchers with ties to the Red Sox have been in the news recently because of Toradol, which left-hander Jon Lester described on Monday as being "a stronger Advil." Maybe a lot stronger.
Right-hander Jonathan Papelbon, who pitched with Boston from 2005-2011, said the medical staff from the Philadelphia Phillies told him to stop using Toradol when he signed with them before the 2012 season because it was dangerous. And right-hander Clay Buchholz said this past season that using Toradol might have contributed to esophagus inflammation that cost him nearly three weeks.
All of this makes me wonder about Curt Schilling, who has been excoriated for claiming someone with the Red Sox medical staff encouraged him to try steroids. Toradol isn't a steroid, it isn't called a "performance-enhancer" and it hasn't been banned — although it might as well be. Regardless, Schilling's story seems just a little more credible now. This can't be about Toradol only.
And it's not just the Red Sox.
In 2012, Newsday reported how popular it was among Mets pitchers. R.A. Dickey told the New York Times he used Toradol the season before to get over plantar fasciitis. Players from other teams, such as Jered Weaver of the Angels, were less effusive with The Times. Weaver called it “an in-clubhouse thing” and declined to say whether he had used it. Brad Lidge said he wasn't a user, but had heard about bad side effects. Other players clammed up like Weaver.
Part of their reticence in talking probably has to do with the ongoing hysterical PED witch hunts in MLB, the movement that prevents deserving players from making the Hall of Fame and suspends certain active players for using drugs while teams encourage — no, inject — others with different drugs they deem to be OK.
Lester says he has taken Toradol "quite a bit" in recent seasons, but that might change now that team policy might change. This is what Lester was quoted as saying by ESPN's Gordon Edes:
"It's good they're looking into it," Lester said. "As players, though, we just think it's a bigger Advil, a stronger Advil. But I think it's nice to know our organization cares about us long term and wants to nip this thing in the bud.
"If they ban it or outlaw it or say you can't take it anymore, it's not going to affect anybody. I think guys use it more for getting loose, and for comfort level, than masking pain."
Oh, it's a mask, all right. Major League Baseball needs to get real about its drug problem. If it bans one substance, it should ban them all. Of course, all that does is push drug use all of the way to the shadows, where it's more dangerous.
Asking baseball to allow all drugs — and to treat its players like adults — is too much.
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