Injury Clouds Status Of Rule 5 Pick
By Chris Kline
December 15, 2006

When the Athletics worked out a deal with the Devil Rays for the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 draft, they thought they were getting a power-hitting corner outfielder in the Indians' Ryan Goleski.

What they didn't know was Goleski was hurt.

The injury goes back to Sept. 3 at Double-A Akron, when Goleski, 24, was hit by a pitch in the right wrist in a game against Erie. He played through the injury during the playoffs, and wound up hitting .286 with a homer and eight RBIs in the postseason.

"It was sore at first and it tightened up, but it felt better as the playoffs went on," Goleski said on Friday. "Maybe that was because I got used to playing through it, but I was OK and didn't really think much of it."

The Tribe shut Goleski down after the Eastern League playoffs, opting to give him a well-deserved rest through the offseason rather than send him to instructional league or to winter ball. But in October, the wrist flared up again when Goleski started his offseason weight-training regimen.

"When I came home, we all thought it was just a contusion," Goleski said. "It started healing up really good. Then when I started lifting, it started to bother me again. I'd get real sharp pain and I knew something wasn't right."

Goleski had surgery on Nov. 9 performed by the Indians medical staff to remove bone chips from the wrist, and there is now some question as to whether he'll be ready for spring training--now as property of the Athletics.

Based on Major League Baseball guidelines, all 30 clubs are required to turn in injury reports prior to the Rule 5 draft, stating which eligible players already have or were slated to have offseason surgery.

The A's and Indians agree that Goleski was not on that list, and the two sides are examining the situation with a wait-and-see approach.

"We'll work with the A's to see where we stand in terms of Ryan's rehab and whether or not he'll be able to perform in spring training," a front office official from Cleveland said on the condition of not being identified. "It's an unfortunate situation, but it is not contentious at all. We want the best for both sides and for the player involved."

"We're discussing it internally, and we've had discussions with Cleveland," added an official from the Athletics. "But this is not an easy resolution."

Oakland paid Tampa Bay $100,000 in cash considerations to get Goleski with the No. 1 pick, then paid an additional $50,000 to the Indians as the standard Rule 5 fee in the major league phase of the draft.

Goleski might bounce back and be able to perform, but wrist injuries are among the toughest to come back from initially--especially for a power hitter. If he doesn't stick on Oakland's 25-man roster all season, he must be offered back to Cleveland for $25,000.

Goleski, a 24th-round pick out of Eastern Michigan in 2003, batted .306/.391/.557 with 27 homers in 445 at-bats between high Class A Kinston and Akron in 2006.

"I still had strength, I still had movement (in the wrist) before the surgery," Goleski said. "Now that the bone chips are out of there, I'll be where I need to be for spring training.

"For me, this is the coolest thing ever. I wasn't a high draft pick and I had to work for everything--I had to earn it. The fact that someone went out and traded for me . . . it's just a wonderful opportunity."