Blasko Suffers "Setback"

Cubs pitching prospect Chadd Blasko, sidelined since mid-2004 with shoulder problems, missed all of the 2005 season and now comes word that he will miss all of 2006 as well.  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp

"Chadd has had a setback and will not throw this season," said Cubs Farm Director Oneri Fleita on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Blasko remains one of the most popular figures associated with the Cubs' modern day farm system -- in part due to the success in his first pro season at Class A Daytona in 2003, but also to the nature surrounding his long-awaited return to the mound.

The questions are common and never too spread out: Where is he? What happened to him? When will we see him again?

While Fleita acknowledged early on last year that Blasko (who received a signing bonus of over $1 million after his supplemental first-round selection from Purdue in 2002) was likely to miss all of ‘05 recovering from shoulder surgery, the news was encouragingly better by Spring Training this season.

"Chadd is looking great," Fleita had said in April. "He'll probably spend a few weeks here just to make sure that he is ready to go."

The Cubs' Director of Player Development since 2000, Fleita reiterated again in May that Blasko was nearing a return, saying he had "a really good chance to be somewhere in our farm system by the end of the month."

But after reports surfaced earlier this week claiming that Blasko had stopped throwing in Arizona, Fleita admitted that Blasko would not pitch at all this season after suffering what was termed "another setback."

The extent of that setback was not disclosed, but Cubs minor league officials confirmed that it was shoulder-related.

"It's a shame," Cubs Minor League Field Coordinator Dave Bialas said of Blasko. "His stuff was very good. Unfortunately, he was a sure-fire major league pitcher and then had the shoulder injuries. He just hasn't been able to come back from them."

A large signing bonus and a proven track record of being able to succeed when healthy will insure Blasko of every chance possible to continue rehabbing in hopes of one day pitching again for the organization.

By '07 maybe?

"He'll keep going through the same rehab and we'll continue treating him the same as when he first had the surgery," Bialas answered. "It's a matter of how [Blasko] himself is going to deal with it.

"It's very difficult to go through this rehab program. It's a day to day process and it's a lot of work. You have to be really strong mentally to go in every day and do this. The surgery isn't the bad part about this, it's the rehab."

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