Ponson urged to avoid surgery, rehab shoulder

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Pitcher, O's doctor to meet Friday, make a decision

labor talks buoy Conine

Notebook

August 14, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS - The Orioles' medical staff has recommended that pitcher Sidney Ponson rehabilitate his right shoulder and not have surgery to repair his torn labrum, vice president for baseball operations Syd Thrift said yesterday.

Ponson will meet with team physician Charles Silberstein on Friday before making a final decision, and if he agrees with the recommendation, he might be able to finish out the season in the starting rotation.

The Orioles placed Ponson on the 15-day disabled list Friday, after a magnetic resonance imaging exam showed a tear in the labrum, or cartilage area in the shoulder socket.

Silberstein compared those results with two previous MRIs Ponson has undergone to determine if this is a new injury or an old injury with which Ponson has already been pitching.

"[Silberstein] believes, after reviewing the old MRI results today, that it is highly possible that he had this injury two years ago," Thrift said. "Whether it was to the same degree, he doesn't know. What he recommended is for him to rehabilitate it at the present time, if he's experiencing no pain."

Ponson, 25, said he didn't want to comment until after he meets with Silberstein. He played catch before yesterday's game, and Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said Ponson reported no pain.

"I think the doctors have an idea of what they'd like to do," Hargrove said, "but until we get home, let's just wait."

Labor optimism

When the players union decided not to set a strike date Monday, Orioles first baseman Jeff Conine took that as a good sign the owners and players might be able to reach a collective bargaining agreement without having a work stoppage.

"Obviously, we didn't take that course of action for a reason," Conine said. "And in my limited labor experience - 1990 a little bit, 1994 and this one - I think there's a sense of optimism that I've never felt before. From everybody involved."

Jason Johnson, the Orioles' player representative, attended Monday's meeting in Chicago and came away thinking this is a big week in the negotiations.

"Maybe they'll talk the next few days about possibly getting something done," Johnson said. "Friday [when a union conference call is scheduled], I guess we'll find out if the meetings went well between the owners and the players."

Conine said there's no comparison between his sense of the negotiations now and in 1994, when a work stoppage canceled the World Series.

"We're meeting," Conine said. "There's a huge difference, just that alone. Even though most of the progress has been made on more minor issues, it's progress, and in my experience that's never been the case before."

Gil's power outage

Catcher Geronimo Gil has brought major gains to the Orioles' defense, but he has struggled of late offensively. He had eight home runs on June 18, but he hasn't hit one since - a span of 48 games.

Before going 2-for-3 last night, he had just three hits in his previous 23 at-bats, but the rookie catcher already has made a lasting impression on Hargrove.

"You're looking at a guy who is learning to play every day in the big leagues," Hargrove said. "He makes mistakes now at the plate that I would be surprised to see him make next year. He's one of our good young players."

Around the horn

Orioles pitcher Pat Hentgen will make his third minor-league rehabilitation start tomorrow for Rookie-level Aberdeen. ... Hargrove said he "wouldn't be surprised" if shortstop Mike Bordick is brought back without going on a rehab stint. Bordick, who has been on the disabled list since July 16 with a hairline fracture in his right kneecap, is hoping to be activated Friday. ... Pro golfer Notah Begay III "threw" out the first pitch, using a 9-iron to chip the ball off the Metrodome turf to Twins catcher Tom Prince.

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