Cornell specialists advise rest, no surgery for Davis

May 01, 1991|By Peter Schmuck

Baltimore Orioles first baseman Glenn Davis apparently will not have to undergo surgery to relieve pressure on the spinal accessory nerve in his neck, though that remains a possibility if more conservative treatment proves unsuccessful.

Davis consulted with three specialists at the Cornell University Hospital for Special Surgery in New York on Monday and received confirmation of the diagnosis made by Johns Hopkins Hospital neurosurgeon Dr. James Campbell, but surgery was not recommended by them at this time.

"They did not find surgery was indicated for the problem," said Orioles orthopedist Dr. Charles Silberstein, who has been coordinating the investigation into the nature and severity of the injury. "Glenn should have a period of rest for a couple of weeks and undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation. Then we'll re-evaluate."

Silberstein said he felt that Davis would play again this season, but indicated that he might be limited to designated hitter duty while he rebuilds strength in his right shoulder.

"If all goes well, he could start taking batting practice and could start batting," Silberstein said, "but it might be longer as far as throwing.

"Even if there is a spontaneous recovery, it will take several months to get back total strength in the area."

The Orioles called an evening media conference to make the announcement, which club officials consider to be very encouraging news. But Silberstein conceded that Campbell is the foremost authority on this particular injury.

Davis was examined by Dr. Peter Tsairis, a neurologist, and orthopedic surgeons Dr. Russell Warren and Dr. Andrew Weiland in New York. Though all are respected specialists in their fields, none is as familiar with this rare nerve problem as Campbell, who recommended that surgery be performed to determine the severity of the nerve damage.

Campbell declined to comment specifically on the recommendations of the other physicians. But he did say: "We are dealing with a problem that is quite rare. It is not surprising that there would be different points of view on how to handle it."

The Orioles indicated, however, that further studies would be done in the next week. Davis joined Silberstein and general manager Roland Hemond at the news conference, but spoke only briefly before heading to the training room to undergo treatment.

"This is new to me," he said. "I don't know what to say. I don't like being paraded around because of an injury. All I'm doing right now is going to doctors and letting them look at me. Dr. Silberstein is the point man. I'm confident that the club has the situation in hand and is doing the right thing."

Davis said that he was relieved that the three doctors in New York -- acting independently -- ruled out the necessity of surgery, but he seemed anxious to get at least one more opinion.

"From what I've been told, it's not as bad as it seemed to be," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen. We'll know that when everybody puts their heads together and decides what to do."

The injury to the accessory nerve had caused a gradual weakening of the trapezius muscle in Davis' right shoulder, but Silberstein said the latest series of tests revealed that some healing had already taken place. No specific timetable for his return to the Orioles lineup was attempted, but the best-case scenario appears to place Davis in position to DH in about a month.

"It's a weird injury," he said. "I'm not experiencing a lot of pain, just a loss of motion. Initially, there were some people who thought [surgery was necessary], but maybe that was an overreaction."

Silberstein said, however, that surgery might be reconsidered if there is further weakening in the shoulder.

Davis is thought to have suffered the injury in an exhibition game at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., on March 12. He complained of a neck spasm after a swing of the bat and continued to experience stiffness until Silberstein sent him to Campbell last week.

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