Orioles place Ponson on DL

He has tear in shoulder

Stephens starts tomorrow

August 10, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

DETROIT - Just when it looked as if the Orioles might have their starting rotation back at full strength, they placed Sidney Ponson on the disabled list yesterday with torn cartilage in his right shoulder.

So on the day the Orioles activated Jason Johnson from his stint on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, they went forward without Ponson. Rookie John Stephens will assume Ponson's place in the rotation and start tomorrow.

Ponson underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam yesterday and was examined by team physician Charles Silberstein. The MRI showed a tear of the labrum, or cartilage area in the shoulder socket.

The Orioles are unsure if it is a new or old injury. Ponson has had two previous MRI exams, with the most recent coming last season, and Silberstein will compare these results with the old results to determine when the injury occurred.

Ponson will be given a final examination next week, but the current plan is to have him rejoin the team on Tuesday to resume his throwing program.

"As long as I've been in baseball, I've never been surprised," said Orioles vice president for baseball operations Syd Thrift. "Some people pitch with these things for 10 years. It depends on who it is."

Ponson, 25, is 3-1 since the All-Star break. He won his past two starts but his velocity was down both times, and he hinted that he might be going through a dead-arm period.

Ponson last pitched Tuesday night, holding the Minnesota Twins to two runs in 6 2/3 innings. Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said Ponson noticed the pain when he woke up Wednesday morning.

"It's a little more troubling because obviously it's a little more than tendinitis, but we just have to wait and see," Hargrove said.

"I don't know what course of action we'll take. Obviously, surgery is one [option]. But the way it's been explained to me, if it's an old injury, then with rehabilitation and working on it, he should be able to go ahead and finish the season."

For the season, Ponson is 6-5 with a 4.16 ERA. He is second on the team to Scott Erickson with 140 2/3 innings pitched.

This appears to be Ponson's first shoulder-related injury. He missed the final five weeks of last season with what was diagnosed as tendinitis in his right forearm. His only official trip to the disabled list in his career came early last season, when he missed three weeks with inflammation in the elbow.

Stephens, 22, probably would have been sent back to Triple-A Rochester had Ponson not been injured. He allowed nine runs in his big-league debut, July 30 at Tampa Bay, and had a shaky start against Toronto on Sunday before finishing with four scoreless innings. He is 0-1 with a 13.00 ERA.

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