Struggling pitcher Bruce Hurst left the Boston Red Sox and flew home from Minnesota Thursday for tests to determine the extent of what was described as a slight virus.
The lefthander, who has a 9-4 record despite an extended slump, said Wednesday night he feared a recurrence of mononucleosis after he was knocked out of the game in the second inning by the Minnesota Twins, who won 8-1."I don't want it to be mono. I want to be so far off that I'm called dumb," he said. "It's not the first time I've been hit around. I'm not scared of that, but I am scared of mono."
A press box announcement during the game said Hurst had a "slight virus."
Hurst flew home for blood tests and an examination by Dr. Arthur Pappas, the Red Sox' physician. However, the club reported, Pappas was performing surgery Thursday afternoon and there was a possibility he would not see Hurst until Friday.
If Hurst is sidelined, it would further harm a starting staff beset by injuries or ineffectiveness. Roger Clemens has pitched well despite a groin injury, third starter Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd has been healthy but inconsistent and fourth starter Jeff Sellers is out with a broken pitching hand.
Thinking he had only "a tired arm," Hurst won only one of his last eight decisions in 1987 but finished with the most victories of his career with a 15-13 record.
After the season, tests showed that he had mononucleosis, an energy-draining disease dreaded by athletes.
Hurst suffered a recurrence in early January. Rest and medication were prescribed and he was brought along slowly in spring training.
He was at full strength for the start of the season, but Pappas warned that he had a type of mononucleosis that was "not uncommon to have a recurrence."
"I just can't get motivated to throw the ball," Hurst told Boston writers in Minnesota. "I just don't have that fire. I feel sluggish, tired, terrible."
In his last five starts, the 30-year-old pitcher has allowed 40 hits and 21 earned runs in 22 innings.
"I love to pitch," he said. "I'm not a quitter. What I'm saying is that I don't feel good."
He added, "I don't want to make excuses. If it's not what I had last year, I just have to say I'm terrible. But when you don't feel good, it's tough to get the adrenalin flowing."
"He's not hurt, but he told me that he doesn't have a lot of life and that he feels just like he did last year at the All-Star break," Boston Manager John McNamara said.
Hurst has insisted that his contract status with the Red Sox has not interfered with his pitching.
However, his contract expires at the end of the season and there has been talk about him possibly testing the free agency market. He reportedly is earning $900,000 this year.
Hurst has a 79-71 career record with the Red Sox. That includes 49 victories in Boston's Fenway Park, tying him with Babe Ruth for third place in club history for home victories. Mel Parnell is the alltime top home winner with 71, followed by Lefty Grove with 55.