Erickson pitching May as his target date

No. 2 starter back in camp, projected to miss 6-8 weeks

March 06, 2000|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Orioles right-hander Scott Erickson is back in camp. His surgically repaired pitching arm is in a sling, but his attitude is upbeat as he prepares to embark on an eight-week rehabilitation program.

"My goal is to be able to pitch in May," said Erickson, who had arthroscopic surgery Friday in Los Angeles to remove bone chips from his elbow.

From every indication, that goal is attainable. Dr. Lewis Yocum projected Erickson would be able to pitch competitively in six to eight weeks, which would put him back in the Orioles' rotation in late April or early May.

Right now, however, there is nothing to do but rest and wait a few days for the healing to begin. Erickson will keep the elbow immobilized for a few days, then begin a light program of range-of-motion exercises. He figures to begin playing catch in two or three weeks.

The biggest challenge may be keeping him from doing too much too soon. Erickson acknowledged yesterday that trainer Richie Bancells already has advised him on the virtue of being patient.

"I called Richie yesterday and asked him if I can try to straighten it out," Erickson said.

This is the first time Erickson has dealt with a serious arm problem, but he seems comfortable with the timetable and the outlook for a healthy return to the starting rotation.

"It's a little bit upsetting, but I've been told this is a common thing," he said. "I called [former Orioles teammate] Mike Fetters before I went in for the surgery. He had the same thing, and he told me there's nothing to it."

No pitcher wants to have arm surgery, but Erickson could not have asked for a better outcome under the circumstances. Yocum removed loose material and one significant bone chip from the inflamed area. If the operation had been any more extensive, the Orioles might have lost their No. 2 starter for half the season or more.

"The only thing that would have been better is if it had cropped up two months ago," Erickson said. "Then, I would be ready to go by now."

Pub Date: 3/06/00

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