By David Fitzpatrick and Drew Griffin, CNN Special Investigations Unit, April 23, 2012.
At 39 years old, Christopher John Nitkowski really has no business trying to pitch in the major leagues. In the harsh reality of professional sports, he’s a has-been. Just don’t tell him that.
The former first-round draft pick last pitched for the Washington Nationals in 2005 after a 10-season career spent mostly as a left-handed reliever.
“You go as long as you can,” he told CNN. “I had a good friend tell me, ‘Man, just make them tear the uniform off of you. You can do whatever you’re gonna do for the rest of your life. You can’t play baseball forever.'”
In the middle of the 2011 baseball season Nitkowski announced in a first-person article for Sports Illustrated that he would try a comeback. After his brief major league appearance in 2005, he pitched subsequent years for one team in Japan and three in South Korea.
This time, he wrote, he would agree to a risky medical experiment that would involve injecting his own stem cells into his injured pitching shoulder, which he hurt in an initial comeback attempt last spring.