`Rubbish' out, Fetters aims to trash hitters


Rapid elbow surgery rehab brings side session here

Surhoff sits until 9th

August 08, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles reliever Mike Fetters returned to Camden Yards yesterday, proclaiming his rehabilitation from right elbow surgery nearly complete and hoping to convince club officials and the training staff that he's close to being ready to pitch.

Fetters has been throwing off a mound for about a week back home in Arizona. He threw 30 pitches during a workout on Friday and didn't report any discomfort, and manager Ray Miller said Fetters might have a bullpen session today.

"I'm ahead of schedule," Fetters said. "I feel good, I feel strong. It's just a matter of getting back into pitching shape. I've done all the rehabbing I can do for my elbow. Now it's a matter of getting arm strength and stamina back and be able to get on the mound and compete and hopefully get somebody out. That wasn't a real easy task before I had surgery."

Fetters had bone chips and spurs removed from his elbow on June 22, about two weeks after going on the disabled list. He hasn't appeared in a game since June 6 against Philadelphia, when he allowed two runs in one inning and admitted to pain in the elbow that he had tried to ignore. A 5.48 ERA has been on hold.

The surgery was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who told Fetters he should have had the procedure done two or three years ago.

"I had a lot of rubbish in my elbow," Fetters said. "I had too many chips to count and a few spurs taken out, too. It was pretty ugly. According to him, it was the most junk he's taken out of an elbow since he's been doing surgery."

The discomfort became more pronounced in May, Fetters said, but he dismissed it as part of the "dead-arm period."

"But it never got better," he said. "I got into June and I was really hurting. I knew something was wrong at that point. I'm one of those guys who will pitch with pain but it was too much. I couldn't go any more. It might have backfired. I should have done something earlier because now my numbers are horrible because I kept trying to go out there when I wasn't right."

Fetters has been using weight training and pool resistance to build strength in the arm. He's also been doing cardiovascular exercises to regain his stamina, "but it still doesn't make up for throwing. That's the part I've got to get back to," he said.

"As far as my elbow, they're trying to get my range of motion back with stretching, massage. It's been a long process. It seems even longer than it's been. But I'm just glad it's over with and I get to try to get back to pitching again.

"There are no twinges, nothing. It's just a matter of strength. I'm probably throwing like a sixth-grader, but it's a start."

Miller said Fetters most likely will go on an injury rehab assignment in the minors. The club could delay activating him until rosters expand next month.

Fetters is waiting to find out how the club wants to proceed. "I'm on their program now," he said. "Once I know that I'm ready to get on the mound, then they have to decide where they want to send me and for how long before I get back. I'm still not ready today. My personal goal is to be ready in a week-and-a-half or two weeks. But it depends on how the arm responds and how quickly it gets strong.

"Now maybe I can go out there and pitch without pain and not have any doubts in my mind if this pitch is going to hurt or that pitch is going to hurt. If I get beat up now, it's because I'm not good enough anymore. There are no excuses.

"If I get people out, then I know what it was. And if I don't, then it wasn't [the elbow]. I just didn't have it any more. But I want to get back as soon as possible. I'm hungry and I want to play. I don't care if it's only for a week."

Some rest for Surhoff

Sensing that B. J. Surhoff needed a rest, Miller started Jeff Conine in left field even though a right-hander was pitching.

Replacing Conine in the ninth inning, Surhoff extended the majors' longest active consecutive-games streak to 272. Last night marked only the second game he hadn't started this season.

Surhoff has only four hits in his last 26 at-bats.

"I was going to rest him on the West Coast," Miller said of the most recent road trip, "but we didn't have Brady [Anderson] for three days and we didn't have Cal [Ripken] for four. It's kind of hard to rest him. But I think he's dragging a little bit. Of course, he wanted to hit an hour earlier today and play. I said, `Please, just take a day off.' "

Feeling bad for Mussina

Miller said he's not concerned about Mike Mussina growing too frustrated from a series of hard-luck starts that again are conspiring against his first 20-win season.

The Orioles have totaled only eight runs in five of Mussina's last six losses. He left Friday's game trailing 4-1 in the eighth. Charles Johnson hit a two-run homer in the ninth, but it wasn't enough for Mussina to avoid losing his third consecutive start.

"Mike's a very intelligent person. He understands," Miller said.

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