Grimsley has surgery

O's in search of relief

Right-hander will be out six to nine months

team in market for setup man

Baseball

October 14, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles' shopping list this winter will include another late-inning reliever after Jason Grimsley underwent reconstructive ligament surgery on his right elbow two days ago.

Dr. Timothy Kremcheck, medical director for the Cincinnati Reds, performed the surgery.

The Orioles announced that Grimsley will be sidelined at least six to nine months, but that is "a very best-case scenario," said executive vice president Jim Beattie. Grimsley could miss the entire 2005 season.

"As a reliever, it might be a little easier to come back because you don't go through the wear and tear of 100 pitches like a starter does," Beattie said. "Certainly, in Jason's case, we're all hopeful."

Grimsley, 37, pitched in pain for most of the second half of the season, but appeared in 73 games this year, going 5-7 with a 3.86 ERA in 63 innings. He was 2-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 41 games with the Orioles after being acquired from the Kansas City Royals on June 21 for Double-A pitching prospect Denny Bautista.

"He didn't let on to a lot of people, but we knew his elbow was bothersome for him, especially in the last month or so," Beattie said. "Our medical staff in the exit physical talked to him about it, but he said he was going to visit Dr. Kremcheck, and if anything was going to be done, Jason wanted him to take care of it.

"It was certainly within our suspicions that something was going on, but you're never sure until you operate or have something like an MRI arthrogram."

Grimsley agreed to a contract extension through 2005 before the trade was completed, but his injury forces the Orioles to consider other setup options. They could use former closer Jorge Julio in that role or acquire a pitcher through a trade or free agency.

"We knew we had to get some help in the bullpen and we're going to continue to try to get deeper, as much as we can," Beattie said. "But when you lose someone like Jason, who we felt was going to be a big part of our bullpen next year, it's going to make it harder to replace that."

The Orioles discussed a scenario in which Grimsley would rest through the winter and be reexamined before spring training, with the possibility of avoiding surgery. But Kremcheck determined that the elbow needed to be repaired after he had viewed the MRI results and found significant damage.

The news came as a huge blow to an organization that gave up one of its top pitching prospects for Grimsley.

Mike DeJean, who signed as a free agent during the winter to be the right-handed setup man, went 0-5 with a 6.13 in 37 appearances. The Orioles traded him to the New York Mets for outfielder Karim Garcia, who later was released.

NOTE: The Orioles are expected to begin interviewing candidates next week for director of minor league operations and scouting director. Major league officials said the team's chances of hiring Texas Rangers assistant general manager Grady Fuson are remote.

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