Dotel saving himself for future paydays

AL notebook

Baseball Week

June 05, 2005

Four different doctors told the Oakland Athletics' Octavio Dotel that he didn't need surgery, that the tendinitis in his right elbow might subside with rest.

But Dotel was listening to his body - and his mom.

So the closer has decided to have Tommy John elbow-ligament-replacement surgery and will be out at least a year.

It was a critical decision for Dotel (3.52 ERA, seven saves in 11 attempts), who is a free agent at the end of the season. He could have landed a hefty payday, even if he returned to a setup role. Instead, he has already offered to pitch for free in 2006.

Dotel, 31, had tendinitis in 2004 but said that pain was "not even close" to what he experienced this time. He felt fine throwing fastballs, but it was excruciating to throw sliders. Consequently, he rarely threw his slider, hurting his 2005 production.

With Dotel kicking around the idea of surgery for a month, his mother put things into perspective.

"If you can't pitch in that pain, get whatever you have to do," his mother told him in a phone call from the Dominican Republic. "If you can't pitch no more, we grew up with nothing. Now, we have something. Don't feel bad. ... Maybe that happened to you because something better is coming up."

Rookie Huston Street, 21, now will take over Oakland's closer duties.

Fairness issue

Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona is miffed that New York Yankees skipper Joe Torre was suspended just one day and fined $1,000 after one of his pitchers, Paul Quantrill, allegedly threw at a batter May 24.

Francona was suspended for three days and fined $3,000 for a similar incident involving his pitcher, Bronson Arroyo, in April. Francona said he has placed several calls to Major League Baseball to question the discrepancy in suspensions but hadn't heard back.

"I think it's horrendous," Francona said. "It seems a little inconsistent, at best."

New home for Clemens?

The newest Rocket rumor is that if the Houston Astros' struggles continue, they'll deal Roger Clemens within state to the surprising Texas Rangers, who could use another veteran pitcher. Both sides denied the speculation, with Astros GM Tim Purpura calling any trade talk about Clemens a "tired subject."

A little lucky

The Cleveland Indians almost lost more than $600,000 in salary in the failed Juan Gonzalez experiment. The often-injured Gonzalez lasted just three pitches before re-injuring his right hamstring and returning to the disabled list. To activate him, however, Cleveland designated reserve outfielder Ryan Ludwick for assignment. Luckily for the Indians, Ludwick, 26, passed through waivers and was sent to Triple-A Buffalo.

Quick hits

David Ortiz's walk-off homer against the Orioles on Thursday was the fifth of his career, and first since he did it to the Yankees in Game 4 of last year's American League Championship Series. ... A Taiwanese lawmaker is urging her constituents to send English language e-mails to the Yankees requesting they keep rookie starter Chien-Ming Wang in the majors.

League notebooks are compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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