Something unusual happened yesterday with Scott Williamson: He smiled.
After days of personal turmoil over his infant son's health and the condition of his own pitching arm, Williamson received a double dose of good news. His 8-week-old son, Scott Reese, was cleared to return home, and a pair of MRIs on Williamson's shoulder and elbow showed no damage.
"Everything came back clean, so that's a big plus," he said.
Williamson said he has been receiving treatment because his shoulder "is barking a little bit." The MRI on his elbow was merely precautionary, he said. He underwent Tommy John surgery on the elbow two years ago.
General manager Theo Epstein said Williamson might need a day or two before he returns to action. He is expected to throw in the bullpen at least once before he pitches again.
As for the infant, he was released from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center late Saturday after a frightening episode for Williamson and his wife, Lisa. The baby was running a "critically high fever" and suffering a rash, among other symptoms, which required him to be treated intravenously and prompted doctors to perform a spinal tap. The child spent thee days in the hospital.
"He's definitely a lot better," said Williamson, who had yet to receive an official diagnosis of the illness.
Willliamson's wife also was faring better. She has been rushed to the hospital three times since she gave birth, including once less than two weeks ago, when she began hemorrhaging. All the visits involved unusually high blood pressure.
"She's doing well," Williamson said. "Her blood pressure came down."
Williamson considered seeking a leave of absence but decided against it when he was assured his wife and child could return safely to their home in Cincinnati, where her family would help care for them.
"I've got to play baseball, that's what I'm here for," he said. "When they get home and call me and say, `Hey, we're home,' I'll be pretty satisfied and be happy again."
Epstein, who Williamson said was highly supportive, endorsed the pitcher's decision.
"He's able to take care of his family and stay here with the team," the GM said. "He knows it's an important part of the season. He's great about it."
Williamson's performance (0-1 with a 7.00 ERA) has been disappointing since the Sox acquired him July 29 from the Reds, but he attributed his struggles in part to his family trauma.
"It's impossible to concentrate on baseball when you've got a newborn baby in the hospital in severe, almost critical condition," he said. "It's really hard to go out there and give the team everything you've got, which I need to do. I feel like I've let my family down and the team down by not giving everything I can. I've kind of been torn in two different directions."