Erikson set for 'Tommy John' surgery

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Elbow operation means right-hander likely out for most of next season

August 08, 2000|By JOE STRAUSS AND ROCH KUBATKO | JOE STRAUSS AND ROCH KUBATKO,SUN STAFF

DETROIT -- The Orioles learned yesterday that right-handed starting pitcher Scott Erlckson will require "Tommy John" surgery on the right elbow that has plagued him since last season.

The operation, scheduled for today, will be the second in the last six months on the elbow, but will be a far more major procedure. It is expected to mean Erickson will be sidelined through at least most of next season.

Erickson, who has been disabled since July 28, left the team in Tampa Sunday afternoon to fly to Los Angeles, where he was examined by Anaheim Angels orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yoeum. It was Yocum who performed arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from Erickson's elbow March 3.

After getting word on Erickson's fate yesterday, manager Mike Hargrove said: "It disappoints me for Scotty, not in any sense of, 'Aw, the poor team,' but in the sense that Scotty has a long road ahead of him. But he certainly has one of the best doctors [Yocum] in the country performing the surgery."

Trainer Richie Bancells said there usually is an eight- to 12-month recovery period for the operation, which involves taking a tendon from the opposite wrist and inserting it in the effected elbow to strengthen damaged ligaments.

Bancells said Erickson could be ready be throw again near the end of next season.

Erickson, in the second season of a five-year, $32 million contract, was 5-8 with a 7.87 ERA before admitting to Hargrove that his right elbow was making it impossible for him to perform.

Erickson failed to throw on the side before his last seven starts because his elbow remained stiff for three days after every start, the pitcher said last month.

During his straggle, the team made an abortive attempt to trade him, only to be sabotaged by his performances and his acqui,ing enough service time to veto any deal.

Bruised, but unbowed

Rookie Luls Matos started his ninth consecutive game in center field last night despite some soreness in his left elbow from being hit by Tampa Bay's Corey Ltdle in the sixth inning of Sunday's 7-4 loss.

By then Matos had become a human bulls'-eye, with the Devil Rays' pitchers taking aim.

Matos poked a single into right field in the second inning, then was hit in the upper left arm by starter Ryan Rupe in the fourth. Lidle unleashed a fastball in the sixth that nicked Matos' bat as it tailed toward his head before nailing the rookie on the elbow with a splitter.

In keeping with his rotten luck, the same pitch also struck Matos in the stomach after being redirected by his elbow.

"Double jeopardy," said Hargrove.

"They were just trying to get mean with me," Matos said.

'The Devil Rays clearly were trying to get inside after Matos had reached for a pitch off the plate to single in the second inning.

"They threw one ball away from him and he hit that rocket to right field. He hit it so hard they thought about throwing him out at first. I'm sure they decided to adjust and just overcompensated," Hargrove said.

Sore foot old hat

A sore left foot didn't keep Brady Anderson out of the lineup last night. Maybe that's because he's gotten used to it.

Anderson occasionally has been bothered by the injury since spring training, and aggravated it on the artificial surface at Tropicana Field. Though the turf resembles real grass, he said he didn't like the way it made his legs feel after playing three games. He had to leave Sunday's game in the seventh inning for ice treatment.

Corsi joining Wings

The Orioles have signed veteran reliever Jim Corsl to a minor-league contract and made him the closer at Rochester.

Corsi went 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 13 games last season with the Orioles after being let go by the Boston Red Sox. He had been pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate in Tucson before asking for his release. He apparently had made the decision over the All-Star break after determining he was too far down the depth chart to be promoted to the majors. He also didn't care for Arizona's hot weather and preferred pitching on the East Coast.

The Red Wings have been without a closer since the Orioles called up Gahe Molina and Ryan Kohlmeier. Sean Maloney has been struggling after an impressive start.

Plaudits for Mora

Melvin Mora went into last night's game batting .405 (15-for-37) since joining the Orioles on July 29, but Hargrove has been just as impressed with his play at shortstop.

Though able to play multiple positions, Mora is regarded as an outfielder who's adapting to being a regular shortstop. The Orioles have conceded that his best position probably is center field, but continue to use him as Mike Bordick's replacement.

"He's a guy who is learning to play shortstop and doing a very good job of it," Hargrove said.

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