Mario Mendoza, the Midland manager from 1994 to '96, said he still has pain in his left foot three years after Floyd operated to remove a bone spur. Mendoza said he wonders whether Floyd botched the surgery but cannot blame him with certainty because he did not adhere to a rehabilitation schedule.
The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners said it has not taken disciplinary action against Floyd since he was licensed to practice in the state in 1978. Jeff Parker, Angel minor league director in 1998-99 and assistant minor league director from 1990-97, said Harkrider is the only player who has complained to the Angels about Floyd.
"We get the best doctors we can, because it's in our best interest," Parker said. "It doesn't make sense to sign these guys and give them to junior doctors."
But Mike Parker, Harkrider's attorney, said the Angels showed "conscious indifference" to his client's plight in four years that included three operations and a smorgasbord of anti-inflammatory medication.
"At the end . . . his kidneys are bleeding, he's got arthritis from the misdiagnosis and his career is over," the attorney said. "It suggests they have an attitude that it's not too important whether we take good care of Tim or not because there are a whole lot more in the pipeline. That may be a good corporate attitude, but it has devastated Tim's life."
Jeff Parker dismissed the notion that the team would risk the health of a prospect by compelling him to play hurt at the double-A level.
"It's not a matter of trying to win the Texas League championship," said Parker, no relation to the attorney. "We're thinking about his future just as much as he is. To keep him playing in double-A is so insignificant to the big picture."
Harkrider said he is suing the Angels, in part, on the advice of minor league coaches employed by the team. Harkrider declined to identify them, saying he did not want to put their jobs in jeopardy.
"There were instructors that came to town and encouraged him to [sue]," Aaron Guiel, another former teammate, said. "I was very surprised by that."
A trial date is pending. The Angels lost a motion to dismiss the case and lost an appeal to force Harkrider into binding arbitration.
Harkrider walked down the aisle at his wedding without pain. A few months later, just fielding a ground ball was an ordeal.
From the first drill of the Angels' 1995 training camp, eight months after the injury, pain surged through the ankle. The Angels again assigned him to Midland.
"He played most of the year and progressively got slower," said outfielder Mike Wolff, a teammate in 1994 and 1995. "He had trouble running after he hurt it. He couldn't cover as much ground. He just couldn't use that leg."
Despite the lingering injury, Harkrider played the entire season, batting .291 and setting career highs in hits, doubles, triples and home runs.
"I kept telling [team officials] something was wrong," Harkrider said. "With the numbers I was putting up, they thought I was bellyaching. . . . They kept encouraging me to play and saying it was going to get better."
Said Carie: "His parents would even say, 'Suck it up and go out there.' I knew it wasn't that easy. I saw him limping all the time."
Although Harkrider perceived that the Angels considered him physically and mentally fragile, his manager described him as valiant.
"He was begging to play, even if he was limping," Mendoza said. "He was biting the bullet."
In August, with the injury more than a year old, Harkrider said Floyd administered an MRI examination. An X-ray helps diagnose bone injuries; an MRI helps diagnose tendon and ligament injuries. Floyd told Harkrider the MRI revealed only a severe sprain.
Two months later, with the season over and Harkrider's pain worsening, the Angels sent him to Dr. Phillip Kwong, foot and ankle specialist at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles. Harkrider gave Kwong the MRI film from Floyd's office.
"He throws the MRI up and, three minutes later, he tells me what's wrong," Harkrider said.
"He said, 'You've been playing with a detached ligament. . . . That's been your problem the whole time. It should have been caught right off the bat.' "
"I said, 'How could they tell me two months ago there was nothing wrong?' He said, 'They were wrong.' "
Kwong said he could not recall making remarks beyond a diagnosis. He also said doctors can interpret MRI results differently.
"It's not as black and white as Tim may have expected it to be," Kwong said.
Dr. Carol Frey, a clinical professor at UCLA and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, said most MRI results are reviewed by a doctor and a radiologist and that it would be "a little unusual" for both to miss a detached ligament.
She also suggested that, for a professional athlete, she would have ordered an MRI sooner than 13 months after the injury.