The Orioles are confident All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar will be ready for spring training after undergoing arthroscopic surgery earlier this month to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Alomar underwent the surgery Nov. 14 in Los Angeles after enduring the condition for the season's final four months. The procedure, which Orioles officials anticipated would be needed, involved tightening the labrum via a staple. The labrum is the cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket. The affected portion of the labrum was in the front of the shoulder, preventing Alomar from batting right-handed or extending his glove hand without suffering a partial dislocation.
According to an internal memo prepared by team orthopedic Dr. Michael Jacobs, Alomar's availability for Opening Day next season is "almost 100 percent." Rehabilitation will begin within the next week, the memo said.
Alomar suffered the injury while hitting May 31. The switch-hitter was reduced to batting left-handed for the balance of the season. He later endured a serious groin pull and was hobbled much of the season's last two months.
Normal recovery from arthroscopic shoulder surgery is three months, which would carry Alomar up to the opening of spring training. The second baseman missed much of last spring training with a sprained ankle that carried over to the season.
An MRI performed on Alomar shortly after the postseason confirmed the condition. The surgery was performed in Los Angeles by orthopedic Dr. Lewis Yocum, who earlier this year removed bone chips from the elbow of then-Orioles pitcher Shawn Boskie.
Alomar's injury was similar, but to a lesser degree, to the one suffered by David Justice in 1996. Then with the Atlanta Braves, Justice separated his shoulder on a follow-through and was lost for the season. Alomar's injury did not involve a separation but a slight dislocation.
Alomar will enter the final season of a three-year contract next season after being limited to 112 games in 1997. Alomar batted .333, including .500 in 70 at-bats after August while contending with a combination of injuries. Overall, he hit .365 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs in 299 left-handed at-bats compared to .248 with no homers and eight RBIs in 113 right-handed at-bats.
Meanwhile, free-agent center fielder Brady Anderson and Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos took a break from negotiations after meeting for three consecutive days. Angelos continues to weigh whether to offer Anderson a fifth year. Anderson, meanwhile, has remained glued to a $7-million-a-year demand.
Sources familiar with negotiations said yesterday that Anderson may be willing to toggle his resistance to accepting deferred money in his contract. Angelos had demanded Anderson defer about $1.25 million per season without interest. Anderson may offer to accept deferred money at a rate of 5 percent interest, well below the 9 percent encouraged by the players association. Anderson's agents calculate the present-day value of a contract would be reduced by $400,000 annually if the club paid no interest on $1.25 million for each of four years.
Anderson apparently will receive an offer from the New York Yankees tomorrow. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner hopes to speak with Anderson when an offer is made. The offer was expected Friday but had to be postponed when Steinbrenner returned to Tampa, Fla., because of a personal concern.
The Toronto Blue Jays also are expected to make an offer but have told Anderson's representatives they must first name a manager. Later this week, they are expected to name Tim Johnson, a former Blue Jays infielder who is currently managing in the Chicago Cubs' minor-league system.