The same sort of punk bravado helped Radinsky when he faced cancer three years ago. Though weakened by chemotherapy and radiation treatments, he worked out daily with the varsity team at his alma mater, Simi Valley High. "From the git-go, Scott never doubted he would beat the disease and return to the big leagues," says Mike Scyphers, his old Simi Valley coach. "He missed team practice only every other Monday, when he would go in for his chemo treatments." The rest of the time Radinsky counseled pitchers, threw batting practice, raked the mound. He also shelled out $150 to play first base for a summer rec team that ended up winning a national championship. "The cancer pushed away any negativity I had," Radinsky says. "I told myself, You're going to miss a year, so just go out and have the best summer of your life." And he did.
In a way, cancer elbowed Radinsky into baseball. His father, a sign maker who coached him in Little League, died of lung cancer when Scott was a high school sophomore. The illness was slow and ugly, and Scott often skipped school to help care for his dad. On days he did attend class, he would stand at the front door of his home before leaving and listen for his father's wheezy gasps. He didn't want to go without making sure his dad was still alive. "I was an angry, rebellious kid," says Radinsky. "The death of my father didn't help."
Out of this, Radinsky developed an ability to endure loneliness. He filled in the empty spaces by singing in a punk band and joining his high school baseball team. His sophomore year he played a little first base for the junior varsity but mostly rode the bench. In the final game of the season, the coach let him pitch. To the surprise of everyone but Radinsky, he threw a one-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts. "Scott had absolutely no mechanics," says Scyphers. "He just got the ball and threw it."
Radinsky graduated to junior closer on the varsity and, in 1986, senior starter. His numbers that year (14-1, 0.72 ERA, 180 whiffs in 100⅓ innings) attracted more radar guns than an Aston Martin rally. That June, Radinsky got a call from a White Sox scout. "Congratulations, Scott," he said. "We drafted you in the third round today."
"Uh-huh," said Radinsky. "O.K."
"Don't sound so excited."
"Oh, I'm excited," Radinsky said unexcitedly. "The White Sox, huh?"
"Yeah, we're in Chicago."
Radinsky wasn't trying to be impertinent. He just didn't follow baseball and had no idea who was on the White Sox. "Scott hardly knew the names of any ballplayers," says Scyphers. "The good part was that no hitter intimidated him. He came right at everyone."
He still does. "You don't see many pitchers throw consistently inside anymore," Cresse says. "The only Dodger who does is Rad." His inside stuff comes sidearm, submarine and everything in between. Ken Griffey Jr. has called Radinsky the toughest lefty he has ever faced. "Usually, when a pitcher changes angles, his control goes down the toilet," says Cresse. "But all of Rad's pitches are consistently over the plate."