Nearly a year to the day after a tornado flattened his childhood home, Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt left the team to get back to his family in Mississippi, where tornadoes again have caused devastating damage.
"There has been a tremendous amount of tornado activity near Roy’s home in Mississippi resulting in several tragic deaths and significant devastation to the area. Because of this, Roy is concerned about his family’s well being. He has chosen to take time to make sure there wasn’t significant damage to his home, but more importantly, to make certain that his wife and children are OK," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
Oswalt hails from the tiny town of Weir, Miss. (pop. about 550). Last year, his mom took cover in a closet, clutching her Yorkie, when the tornado roared through.
"It is almost a year to the day that his parents’ home was destroyed by a tornado which has heightened his concern about the current situation."
His mother, Jean, talked to Click2Houston.com about surviving the ordeal.
"So I laid down on the floor with my dog and put a pillow across my head and held her up real close so she wouldn't get hurt either," Jean said from in front of the rubble where her house once stood. "And when I did that it started hitting the front part of the house. . .I've been here for 38 years in this house -- I raised my children in it -- and it was gone in a matter of seconds," she said.
Jean and her pup survived the tornado. Two children in the area did not. Roy's mom credits an act of God for her survival -- one of the few items intact after the storm was the family bible.
"The bible that was in the front room was laying next to me," Jean said. "And I knew right then that the good Lord had taken care of me."
At that time, Oswalt's former team, the Astros, gave him some time to clean up after the storms. It now seems the Phils have done the same thing.
Roy returned home to help in the recovery effort even using heavy machinery to help clean debris.
The news of Oswalt's whereabouts put to rest all the rumors of what might be wrong with the Phillies pitcher. Beat writer Matt Gelb had touched on Oswalt's absence in the locker room Tuesday night following his three-inning effort where he allowed five earned runs to the Arizona Diamondbacks. After the game, Oswalt wasn't around to talk to reporters, causing some to suspect that his balky back -- which has landed him on the disabled list in the past and kept him from pitching past the sixth inning during a start against the Florida Marlins a couple weeks ago -- was acting up. That obviously wasn't why Roy left the ballpark.
Roy's physical health seems fine and the Phils want to allow him time to find peace of mind.
"We are hopeful that he will rejoin the team for his next start, but will take that day by day."
With Jose Contreras expected to miss three to four weeks and the offense floundering, ideally the Phillies don't need any of their starting pitchers away for too long. But right now it's all about Roy making sure his house is in order and we wish him the best.