This just in . . .
Columnist Dan Rodricks will not undergo surgery for his injured shoulder and could be back in The Evening Sun as soon as three weeks, a Baltimore physician said today.
But Dr. Charles Steinsilber also said that the opinions of other doctors will be sought in an effort to find the best way to treat what he termed "a very unusual injury." He also cautioned readers that there was a chance Rodricks' typing, the hallmark of his column, might not be at 100 percent for several months.
Rodricks injured the spinal accessory nerve in his neck -- known in sports medicine as Glenn Davis Syndrome -- on March 12, while sleeping in an unusual position on his living room sofa.
According to published reports, Rodricks spent several hours watching a Marx Brothers film festival on television, then fell asleep on an upside-down Tupperware bowl. Earlier in the day, Rodricks had filled the bowl with popcorn. After emptying it, he turned it upside down, rested his head on it and dozed off. When Rodricks awoke, he found a crick in his neck roughly the shape of the Tupperware bowl.
"It was amazing," said the neighbor who dialed 911, "there was like this strange bow in his neck. His head was practically frozen in place sideways. His eyes were perpendicular to his shoulder. We couldn't figure out what it was from, then we found the Tupperware bowl on the sofa. It was chilling."
The injury caused weakness to a muscle in Rodricks' right shoulder. There was speculation Rodricks might have to undergo surgery and would be unable to continue typing his column, but he received encouraging news from three doctors who examined him in New York.
"All three arrived independently at the same conclusion," Steinsilber said. "They did not feel surgery was indicated for this problem."
Last Thursday, Dr. Kim Hammond, of Falls Road Animal Hospital, recommended surgery to correct the injury.
But Steinsilber said there have been no more than one or two people who have been operated on specifically for this type of injury. (Oriole first baseman Glenn Davis, who suffered the same injury while batting in spring training, was spared surgery.)
Steinsilber said doctors at Cornell University Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan prescribed "a couple of weeks" of rest and therapy for Rodricks, to be followed by a re-evaluation of the injury.
"Then, if all went well, Dan could then start typing again, and maybe even type some entire sentences," the doctor said. "I can't say how long until he can start typing entire paragraphs."
Rodricks, columnist since 1979, doesn't have to actually type his column in order to be in the newspaper at his current rate of three times a week. He can dictate columns to a typist.
"He can do 'em in his sleep, as long as he's not sleeping with a popcorn bowl for a pillow," said Evening Sun managing editor Jack Lemmon.
Rodricks typed about 60 columns so far this year, including one as recently as Monday, before being placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Asked if he thought Rodricks' typing would be hindered by the injury, Steinsilber replied, "Well, his last column was very well-typed. But, in terms of prose and content, it wasn't exactly a home run. More like a bloop single. Recovery is going to take time."
"We're very encouraged by the fact that he'll be banging the keyboard in a couple of weeks," editor Lemmon said. "If that's the case, then we're hoping that he'll be back at the word processor in the next month or so. We might ease him back in by letting him type up a few recipes for the food page, maybe a few short obituaries."
Rodricks, pleased with the latest round of tests, was miffed at all the attention it stirred.
"Too much hand-wringing over a sore neck and a bum shoulder, if you ask me," he said. "Of course, I didn't handle this very well. Originally, I lied. I told people I'd pinched a nerve while picking up my 1-year-old. Then I told people I'd spent too much time with a telephone cradled against my head. Then I went around saying I'd slept wrong. I never owned up to the popcorn bowl business.
"But, now it's all out in the open, and I'm sure the entire Baltimore area is resting easier knowing I'm going to be OK. I wanna thank everyone at The Evening Sun for supporting me through this. It's like a team here, you know. My shoulder's starting to feel better. I really feel like I can help this ballclub."