What appeared to be a promising season going into spring training turned out to be a disappointing one for Boston Red Sox pitcher and Finksburg native John Dopson, who spent most of the 1990 season on the disabled list and underwent successful surgery on his right elbow over the summer.
Coming off a solid 12-8 season with a more-than-respectable 3.99 ERA in 1989, the 30-year-old right-hander was looking to do even bigger things in the 1990 season.
He began the season firmly planted as the third starter for Red Sox manager Joe Morgan.
He first experienced problems on April 17 when he left a game in the sixth inning with stiffness in his elbow and forearm. He left his next start five days later after the second inning and ended up on the disabled list.
On May 14, Dopson was sent to Pawtucket for a 20-day rehabilitation assignment.
He was activated June 4 and made one start, lasting five innings against the New York Yankees before leaving due to numbness in his right hand.
One week later, he was back on the disabled list.
Dr. Arthur Pappas, the team physician and an orthopedic spe cialist, diagnosed the problem as pressure on the ulnar nerve in Dopson's right elbow.
Dopson met with orthopedic surgeons and his family July 9 to decide whether to undergo surgery on the elbow.
Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., suggested resting the elbow another month instead of surgery.
Dopson did and felt well enough for another rehabilitation assignment in Pawtucket. He had one pain-free start Aug. 13, but left his second start Aug. 18 after a recurrence of pain and numbness.
On Aug. 27, Andrews performed surgery that removed a bone spur near his right elbow and relocated a nerve in his right forearm.
Andrews performed arthroscopic surgery on Dopson's shoulder in 1986 and repaired Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens' shoulder in 1985.
Dopson is doing well and is expected back at full strength by the start of spring season next year.
While Dopson is eager to return to the Red Sox next spring, the area's other big leaguer, Sykesville's Greg Smith, will be wearing Dodger blue next season.
The Chicago Cubs traded the 23-year-old shortstop/second baseman Dec. 14 to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Jose Vizcaino.
With the Cubs solid in the middle infield with all-stars Shawon Dunston (shortstop) and Ryne Sandberg (second baseman) playing in front of him, it appears the trade will benefit Smith.
After playing last season at short, the Dodgers appear interested in playing him at second base next season.
Smith started the season on the big league roster but spent most of last season with the Cubs' Class AAA team in Des Moines, Iowa. He was recalled to the Cubs in September and batted .205 in 18 games.
Smith, a former star at Glenelg High School of Howard County, was a second-round draft pick of the Cubs in 1985 and has spent his entire six-year career with Chicago.