Kamieniecki has disk, part of vertebra removed Neck brace awaits pitcher after 90-minute procedure

September 16, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles pitcher Scott Kamieniecki had surgery yesterday morning to remove a herniated cervical disk in his neck and part of the sixth vertebra in his spine. The 90-minute procedure was done by Dr. Henry Bohlman at University Hospital of Cleveland.

Once the disk was removed, Bohlman took a bone graft from Kamieniecki's left pelvic area and tapped it into the vertebra.

Kamieniecki, who went on the disabled list for a third time Aug. 22, could return to his home in Flint, Mich., as early as today. He'll wear a neck brace for the next six weeks, then remain inactive for another two. If the graft has healed properly, Kamieniecki then will begin a rehabilitation program that includes muscle-strengthening and aerobic exercises and some light throwing.

Asked if Kamieniecki could be ready by the start of spring training in February, Bohlman said, "He ought to be able to do that. I don't think that will be a problem. And he should be in good shape by the time the season starts."

Kamieniecki also had disk surgery on Oct. 10, 1991, four months after his major-league debut with the New York Yankees. Yesterday's procedure "was a little more extensive," Bohlman said.

"We had to remove some of the sixth vertebra to get to the disk because it was pooched up behind the vertebra and compressing his spinal cord. But there were no problems at all and I have every expectation that he will return to full strength."

Kamieniecki last pitched on Aug. 21 against Cleveland, leaving after 2 2/3 innings. He appeared in five games since returning from his second stop on the DL July 25, and stayed behind in Cleveland to be examined by Bohlman after an Aug. 16 loss to the Indians.

"It really was bothering him a lot," Bohlman said. "When he was here pitching against the Indians, he even had a touch of weakness in his right arm. It's rather amazing that he was pitching at all. It was a pretty big herniated disk."

Kamieniecki also was out April 25 to May 12 with a strained left groin and disk-related neck stiffness. Signed to a two-year, $6.3 million contract over the winter, he went 2-6 with a 6.75 ERA in 54 2/3 innings. He'll turn 35 on April 19, and could be relegated to the bullpen if the club adds another starter.

"We'll look at him as a starter or a long reliever. It's going to depend on his rehabbing," said manager Ray Miller. "The reason we had it done now is it would be a three- or four-month [recuperation], so get it done now and give us a chance to figure that out."

NOTES: Eric Davis wasn't in the starting lineup for the second straight game to rest his sore hamstrings. He led off the ninth with a pinch single and could return tonight. Willie Greene was one of the few Orioles to have faced Texas starter Esteban Loaiza, while both were in the National League. He was 4-for-10 with a home run against him in the NL, but went 0-for-3 last night. Bench coach Eddie Murray was ejected by plate umpire Gary Cederstrom for complaining about a call in the eighth inning. Texas' John Wetteland worked the ninth for his 40th save, becoming one of only four pitchers in major-league history to have three or more 40-save seasons.

Pub Date: 9/16/98

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