With time to heal, Floyd feels fine

With time to heal, Floyd feels fine

CHICAGO -- If not for the nature of Gavin Floyd's season-ending injury, the right-hander's following assessment of this particular malady would serve as a somewhat clumsy attempt at humor.

Instead, it's a literal and comical statement on the physical issue that plagued Floyd for the final month of the 2009 campaign.

"Literally, it was a pain in the butt," said Floyd, during a phone interview Monday evening, laughing at his brief moment of baseball improv.

Floyd, 26, was bothered by pain officially listed as being in his left hip, but it really traveled more to the area near the left side of his back side. His last start of 30 trips to the mound came on Sept. 16 during an abbreviated effort at Seattle's Safeco Field, where Floyd allowed three runs on four hits over three innings and simply didn't look like his usual consistent self.

With the White Sox basically out of contention for the American League Central title, manager Ozzie Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper first skipped one of Floyd's starts and then eventually cut short his year at an 11-11 record and 4.06 ERA. But almost seven weeks after that unplanned finish, Floyd reports no ongoing trouble.

"It feels great. It's definitely progressively gotten better," Floyd said. "I haven't tested it out off of the mound, but just from moving around and everything, it feels pretty much back to normal."

The plan for Floyd is to start tossing the baseball in late December, and then after getting married on Jan. 2, he'll start throwing off the mound in mid- to late January. Floyd pointed out that there never really was a diagnosis for his pain, and he didn't rule out something remotely related to pitching mechanics.

"You never know," Floyd said. "But I've thrown across my body my whole life, so I don't understand how it would be mechanical. It was really ... it got to the point where it was on my mind every pitch.

"They tried to narrow it down what it was. We don't know what actually caused it, but time was the thing to heal it, and when I got time, it felt a ton better."

As part of this recent healing period, Floyd has kept a close watch on Major League Baseball's postseason. He has a direct connection to both teams taking part in the World Series, a competition moving to a Game 6 on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Mark Teixeira, the Yankees' Most Valuable Player Award candidate at first base, grew up across the street from Floyd and his family in Maryland.

"Their backyard faced our front yard," Floyd said with a laugh, adding how his older brother, Michael, has stayed friends with Teixeira, and that his parents are also friendly with Teixeira's parents.

Of course, Floyd's connection to the Phillies comes from being the organization's top pick and fourth overall selection in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft. Ryan Howard was a player that Floyd came up with from "Day 1." Cole Hamels' wife and Floyd's fiancée are good friends, and Floyd played in the Arizona Fall League with J.A. Happ. He worked with players like Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz in his five years with Philadelphia.

That National League run ended when Floyd was traded to the White Sox after the 2006 season. He played a major role in the South Siders' 2008 run to the division title with a 17-8 record and 3.84 ERA, but ultimately, he would like to be in the spot where Teixeira, Howard and Hamels are now.

For the White Sox to reach the World Series once again, they will need Floyd to competently fill out one of the game's best starting rotations in the second season of his four-year, $15.5 million extension agreed upon last March. It's a challenge Floyd is ready to take on, without that extra posterior pain upon delivery.

"I'm not worried at all, just a one-time thing, not like a chronic thing," Floyd said, when asked whether the injury would be on his mind going into 2010. "During this offseason, I'm going to work on strengthening and flexibility of the muscles around that area. Even if I didn't do that, I would be fine. I'm still going to take precautions and make sure I work to do the appropriate stuff.

"I run a lot. I push myself all the time. So, maybe I was overdoing it. It could be a number of things. Coop thought toning down what I throw in between starts would take off undue stress because I'm pretty intense between each start.

"Really, it's just the way I am, where I try to simulate things as much as possible," Floyd said. "I try to be the best I can be, but that could be toned down."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.