Gibbons' wrist pain is only stitch in time

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

'01 surgical suture found, big relief to outfielder

oft-injured Matos returns

Notebook

July 20, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Expecting to need a magnetic resonance imaging test on his right wrist yesterday, Orioles first baseman Jay Gibbons got by with nothing more than a shot and a simple explanation.

An examination by Dr. Thomas Graham in Baltimore revealed the source of Gibbons' discomfort: a suture that hadn't dissolved from his surgery last August to remove a broken hamate bone. It's apparently pressing on a nerve, causing an initial jolt of pain and some numbness that forced Gibbons out of Thursday's game against Toronto after the sixth inning.

Graham, who performed the surgery last year, gave Gibbons a shot to deaden the pain, which worsened after popping up in his final at-bat against the Blue Jays.

"It's right in the middle of my scar and was causing inflammation in the nerves," said Gibbons, who had run-scoring singles in the first and fourth innings last night against Chicago. "It's something I'll probably have to take care of at the end of the year, but it's no big deal. He shot it up right now and it feels like 100 percent, like a new wrist.

"I was really scared. It felt like last year all over again. But it's good news because everything is structurally sound. The cartilage is OK. It's just a little stitch that's causing the irritation."

Gibbons said he'll receive a cortisone shot on Wednesday and hopes he won't need another one for the rest of the season.

The Orioles can't afford to lose his bat because Jeff Conine apparently remains at least two weeks away from being activated.

A recent meeting with manager Mike Hargrove confirmed that Conine will go on an injury rehabilitation assignment before leaving the disabled list. Conine hasn't played since June 14, when he strained his right hamstring in Philadelphia. He'll report to one of the Orioles' minor-league affiliates and receive 15 to 20 at-bats.

"It's been over a month. I'm not going to embarrass myself or the team by going out there and looking like a fool," he said.

The Orioles aren't certain when Conine will be ready to play. He reinjured the hamstring while attempting to run the bases during a pre-game workout July 11, eliminating whatever progress had been made.

"You figure when I start running, it's probably at least another week," he said, "and I'm really not that close to running yet."

Matos' healthy outlook

Outfielder Luis Matos made his return to Baltimore yesterday after joining the team in Toronto. He didn't expect it to take this long, but a broken hamate bone in his left wrist delayed his season.

Matos, 23, suffered the injury during a March 9 exhibition game in Port Charlotte, Fla. He had surgery nine days later and spent two months at the Orioles' extended spring training camp in Sarasota before reporting to Single-A Frederick in early June.

Three games were enough for Matos to be promoted to Double-A Bowie, where he batted .277 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 24 games. The Orioles recalled him on Wednesday when Mike Bordick went on the disabled list with a fractured kneecap.

Once considered the Orioles' center fielder of the future, Matos also needed surgery in March 2001 to tighten his left shoulder capsule. He appeared in only 31 games after being called up from Bowie.

"The surgeries set me back a little bit," he said. "I just want to stay healthy."

It's harder than it looks. Matos missed two weeks at Bowie because of inflammation in the shoulder.

"It's not 100 percent, but it's good enough to play and that's all that matters," he said. "Maybe it's good I had these surgeries early in my career and I won't have any more. You play hard every day, something's going to happen. You can't worry about that."

Around the horn

Olindo Koolman, the governor of Aruba, and Tai Foo Ramon Lee, the Minister of Sports, were honored before last night's game. Joined by their families, they also will attend tonight's game and watch Aruba native Sidney Ponson, who starts against the White Sox. ... Orioles broadcaster and former pitcher Mike Flanagan was inducted into Triple-A Rochester's Hall of Fame along with former infielder Jeff Manto. Flanagan spent 1 1/2 seasons with the Red Wings, going a combined 19-5 with a 2.41 ERA in 34 games. He pitched for them in 1975 and 1976.

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