Duchscherer to miss rest of season

Oakland Athletics pitcher Justin Duchscherer has been diagnosed with clinical depression and will miss the rest of the 2009 season as he undergoes treatment for the condition, his agent said Friday.

Duchscherer had been on the 60-day disabled list with an elbow injury, but the A's have reclassified his DL status to reflect the diagnosis of depression, agent Damon Lapa said. Club officials made the announcement before Friday's game against Detroit.

Lapa said that Duchscherer recently decided to come forward to aid in his recovery and to serve as an example to others suffering from depression.

"Justin has been battling this for quite some time, and it's kind of reached the apex where he made a really tough decision and owned up to the problem,'' Lapa said. "He wants to take a step back and really focus on addressing his personal issues off the field.

"Ultimately, this transcends the baseball field and goes beyond the diamond. This is about his health and happiness as a human being.''

Duchscherer, 31, is a two-time All-Star who was expected to serve as the veteran anchor to a young Oakland rotation this season. But he suffered an elbow injury that required surgery in late March, and he incurred more down time because of lower back pain in June. Duchscherer pitched 11 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts in three minor league rehab appearances, but has yet to pitch in Oakland this season. He will be eligible for free agency this off-season.

Duchscherer is the latest of several major league players to be sidelined by depression or anxiety-related issues this season. The list includes Detroit pitcher Dontrelle Willis, St. Louis infielder Khalil Greene and Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, who told reporters in June that he suffered from depression, anxiety and panic attacks after the death of his father last August.

Lapa said the A's have been extremely supportive, and that health professionals have told Duchscherer he has a "very treatable'' form of depression.

"I think athletes have had this for a long time,'' Lapa said. "Maybe it's a sign of our times or more advanced medical treatment. The last thing Justin wants to do is run from the issue and deny he has a problem. It takes a lot of courage that he's willing to come forward with this.''

Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com. His book "License To Deal" was published by Rodale. Click here to order a copy. Jerry can be reached via e-mail.