By Mike Berardino
August 5, 2002
Class A righthander Don Levinski, making his final start before he was to join the Marlins organization, left in the second inning Saturday in Clinton, Iowa, with an apparent shoulder injury.
Industry sources said Levinski, the player to be named in the July 11 deal that sent Cliff Floyd to Montreal, will fly today to Florida. Levinski, 19, will undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, the first of his brief professional career.
Levinski allowed seven hits and six runs against Michigan. He threw just 32 pitches and was removed without retiring either of the two batters he faced in the second inning.
Levinski’s fastball touched 90 mph a couple of times, but also dropped into the low- to mid-80s, prompting concern. He typically throws 92-94 mph.
“He didn’t look right,” an Expos source said. “His arm wasn’t right. He didn’t seem to think it was anything serious, but he told people he just didn’t feel right.”
Levinski, who received an $825,000 signing bonus as a second-round pick out of a Texas high school, had not pitched in 10 days. He skipped his previous turn because Clinton was facing Kane County, the Marlins’ Midwest League affiliate.
It’s unknown if there are provisions to substitute a different Expos minor leaguer in the deal should the Levinski injury prove serious. Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest refused comment.
Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of Levinski’s signing. Major-league rules prohibit teams from trading players until one year after they sign their first pro contract.
Levinski entered Saturday with a 12-5 record and 2.59 ERA in 20 starts this year.
Levinski, a 19-year-old Texan, hadn’t pitched since July 24, skipping his scheduled turn on Monday because the opponent was Kane County. Clinton and the Cougars spent the week playing a six-game, home-and-home series, which kept Levinski on the shelf despite perfect health.
“To me, that’s where it’s wrong for anybody to make these trades,” Clinton general manager Ted Tornow said. “Levinski is still on our roster. He’s not on the suspended list, not on the inactive list. If his turn in the rotation comes up, he should pitch.
“Instead, we were told, ‘No, no, no. We don’t want him pitching against his soon-to-be teammates.’ That’s a bunch of B.S.”
Tornow, in his 19th season working in minor league baseball, said the situation was tough on Levinski.
“The poor guy is like, ‘I know I’m going to be traded. My agent told me I was going to be traded,’ ” Tornow said. “But he has to sit there charting pitches when he should be out on the mound. …
“Levinski is a great guy. I’d take 10 Don Levinskis. He has a laid-back attitude but he’s a competitor. I’m just sad to see him go and sad about the circumstances under which he departed.”