Athletics’ Duchscherer emerges from dark place
Only Justin Duchscherer knows the source of his pain, the depth of his struggle and the path to the type of happiness he has been chasing since long before his baseball career took off as a member of the Thunder in 2000-01.
After two years battling injuries and a divorce that help send Duchscherer into a downward spiral that resulted in a diagnosis of clinical depression, the Oakland Athletics right-hander never topped 87 mph last night, yet he won his first big league game since 2008 with 7 1/3 scoreless innings to fuel a 4-0 shutout of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
“Unless you are in my circumstances, you can’t understand the process that’s taken me to this point,” Duchscherer told Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse during a candid interview earlier this month.
You can read the entire article here.
“It’s hard to explain. The biggest thing I feel is pride, for me to get through the injuries and the emotional stuff, to be able to stay strong enough to get back into this position.”
The 32-year-old Duchscherer, who played for Double-A Trenton before being dealt by the Boston Red Sox to the Texas Rangers for catcher Doug Mirabelli on June 12, 2001, told San Francisco Bay-area reporters during a conference call last year that he knew there was a serious problem last summer when he could not bring himself to board a flight from Phoenix to Triple-A Sacramento for a rehab start.
Duchscherer said he was “paralyzed” when he got to the airport. He immediately called a psychologist and asked for help.
“I was just overwhelmed,” Duchscherer said of the many events that led to his depression. “It stemmed from when I was five years old. There were a lot of things I was taught, and dysfunction in my family. I was operating with a lot of things that were unhealthy for me. For example, putting up walls and not really being me. (At) that moment I said ‘Something is not right. I need to address this.’ ”
Two quick Duchscherer stories from his days in Trenton.
The first is from July 4, 2000, and I do remember it being a red flag for me considering Duchscherer’s public admission regarding his depression and the underlying causes of it.
Duchscherer had just shut out New Haven at Waterfront Park.
The kid was dominant.
He should have been on top of the world.
As the media waited for him in the Thunder clubhouse.
Then in the hallway.
Then the tunnel.
With no sign of Duchscherer anywhere we curiously walked out to the dugout, where we found some of the players watching the July 4 fireworks display.
Lo and behold, there was a wide-eyed Duchscherer, leaning on the steps taking it all in.
Seriously pressed on deadline, we reluctantly asked Duchscherer for a few quotes about his command performance.
He immediately became agitated and, with a scowl on his face, wondered: ‘Can it wait? I am watching the fireworks.’ ”
Then he turned his back and walked away.
Have to admit. That was a first.
No more than 15 seconds later, Duchscherer returned, apologized and, as always, gave a terrific interview.
The second story features a completely different type of drama.
Duchscherer, now 32-24 with a 3.15 ERA in the majors following Monday’s victory, pitched one of the three best minor-league games I have ever seen, also against New Haven, on May 11, 2001 at Yale Field.
With a 12-6 curveball and a sneaky fastball that attacked the corners of the plate, Duchscherer came within two strikes and a hard ground ball over the shoulder of third baseman Jorge DeLeon in the ninth inning of the first no-hitter in franchise history and the first in the Eastern League since 1991.
More from the perfectionist Duchscherer, courtesy of Fanhouse.
“I just had to learn to accept myself. If I fail, I fail. I can’t judge myself and criticize myself because I’ve gotten pretty far and done pretty well.”
Best of luck to a guy that could use some.