LICN: You pitched in the major leagues for quite a long time (1988 – 2001). How would you rate your satisfaction with your career?
PH: I was very satisfied. At the end I made one mistake. I had minor elbow surgery my last year with Cincinnati (2001) to fix a tendon in my arm. My ligament was okay, my rehab was fabulous, my throwing program was fabulous…I was throwing 200 feet as hard as I wanted on flat ground. The only mistake was that I should have gone back to Cincinnati. They were in tune with the rehab and what had to be done. I signed with Colorado, and the first day they had me throw a full workout, which I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be doing. So I was supposed to throw 15 to 20 nice easy straight pitches off the mound…I threw [for] 10 to 12 minutes like all the other pitchers, throwing breaking balls… It was the first day of spring training and afterwards I could not lift my arm. I threw the rest of spring training biting the inside of my mouth, throwing every other day trying to get my arm in shape. I had an MRI just before opening day…the whole elbow was destroyed. The thing I had fixed – the ligament – was torn. I was going to blow it off, but I got the whole thing fixed. Rehab was going great. I went back to Cincinnati again (in 2003) to the Triple A (minor leagues) to get my arm in shape, and was on a timetable to be back May 15th. The Reds gave up 20 runs the first few games and panicked. I was supposed to stay in Florida another 3 or 4 weeks and throw every 5th day in extended spring training, so they throw me into Triple A in Toledo in 15° weather on April 7th and I pulled my hamstring. That set me back a couple of weeks. The doctor said it was going to be 12 to 15 months (post surgery) before I had full velocity back, and I was 9 months post surgery and pitching in Triple A. I was getting blasted every game, throwing 85 to 87 mph. It went back and forth for a few months like that and they released me. I had 10 Triple A starts and my ERA was like 8. The mistake I made was leaving Cincinnati and going to Colorado. If I hadn’t left, I wouldn’t have had that second injury.
LICN: So why did you leave Cincinnati?
PH: I thought I was going to get a better deal somewhere else. They were offering me no money [and] wouldn’t give me a guarantee. The other team did. I felt like I was in the big leagues for 12 years and I deserved a major league deal. I wasn’t looking for the moon, but they wanted to sign me to a minor league contract for $2,000 a month and bring me into the minor league camp. I found someone who gave me a better deal and a guarantee of another year on the roster. With the other deal, they could have cut me anytime they wanted. Looking back, for the few hundred grand I guaranteed myself, it was the wrong decision.