Papelbon Says He Used Legal Drug Toradol


FORT MYERS, Fla. – ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes and Joe McDonald are reporting that former Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, (2005-11) admitted on Saturday that he was regularly injected with Toradol, a legal, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug, while with the Red Sox. Papelbon said several of his teammates were also regularly injected with the drug.

Toradol is becoming controversial in sports, particularly in baseball, and you might remember it as the drug that Clay Buchholz admitted last season may have had part in causing his season-stunting esophagitis that left him sitting not only in the dugout for 20 games, but also in a hospital bed, in intensive care after losing three to four pints of blood.

Papelbon was asked if he used the drug when he was signed by the Phillies as a free agent at the end of the 2011 season, and when he said he did, they told him he would have to discontinue using it.

“They told me, ‘We don’t do that here.’ That kind of surprised me,” Papelbon said on Saturday, via conference call from Phillies camp in Clearwater, Fla. “I haven’t had a single Toradol shot since. But here’s the thing you have to understand: there are so many organizations that do it. Not only baseball, but every sport. Football, basketball, hockey. It’s not just the Red Sox.”

A Red Sox official said that the team is reviewing its policy to ensure player safety, likely in light of the incident that occurred with Buchholz last season, as well as several lawsuits that have been filed by former NFL players against their league, noting that the club was in full compliance last year ensuring that only a doctor injected the medication. They added that the drug is legal, non-steroidal,  has obvious pain-management benefits, and acknowledged that it’s widely used around the league, including by Red Sox pitchers prior to making starts.

Papelbon couldn’t remember if it was a teammate or a member of the medical staff who first introduced him to it, saying, “it was kind of a word-of-mouth thing. You got in the clubhouse and said, ‘Man, I feel like crap,’ and somebody would say, ‘Oh, you should get a Toradol shot.’ All players talk about what gets you through a 162-game season.”

Papelbon couldn’t recall which year he first began using Toradol either, but that it may have been 2007, the year he was the championship closer for the team. He also added that while he never saw another player get injected, he believes many other players were using it.

Papelbon was never warned of the potential side effects of using the drug, but said he didn’t experience any reactions to it, and that he never overused the drug.  “I used it based on how I felt,” he said. “The days I felt bad, I took it. Maybe once a month.

“It made me feel better. You had to get it about 30 minutes before a game, and it made me feel pretty damn good. It only lasted about four hours maximum. But I never saw anyone else get injected — that’s the God’s honest truth.”

Although the drug is legal in the MLB, as well as in other professional sports, it has raised concerns among medical experts about the effects of longtime use, as well as its potential side effects, most notably, the risk for internal bleeding, ulcers and intestine perforation.

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