Albers faces tossup over hurt shoulder



June 29, 2008|By Roch Kubatko and Jeff Barker | Roch Kubatko and Jeff Barker,Sun reporters

WASHINGTON -- Orioles reliever Matt Albers said he'll seek a second opinion within the next few days before deciding whether to undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Albers, who rejoined the club yesterday after flying to Baltimore for a magnetic resonance imaging test, has already consulted with team orthopedist John Wilckens and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells. He has been presented with two options: surgery that would cost him an estimated eight to 10 months, or a rehab program that could return him to the active roster by late August.

"I want to go over it with the doctors and trainers and my family and make the best decision," he said. "I'm still optimistic I'll be able to pitch this year. I don't really want to have surgery. I don't think anyone really wants to. It's one of those things I'm going to have to go through and make a good decision."

Forced into an emergency start Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs, Albers faced five batters before leaving with discomfort in his shoulder. The MRI revealed the cartilage tear.

"I was hoping it wasn't [serious], but I felt pain that I hadn't really felt before, so I knew it wasn't good," he said. "It was more of a gradual thing, kind of continued to get worse. It just hit a point where I couldn't really go anymore."

Albers also contacted pitcher Troy Patton, who had labrum surgery this spring. They were teammates with the Houston Astros before coming to the Orioles in the Miguel Tejada trade.

"I talked to him yesterday to just catch up a little bit," said Albers, who's 3-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 28 games. "He's a good friend of mine, so I've just talked to guys who have gone through it and had the same kind of things.

"I don't want to be disappointed. It's part of the game. I'm going to try to stay as optimistic as possible."

Burres questionable

Pitcher Brian Burres left the team yesterday after having a recurrence of the stomach ailment that caused him to miss Wednesday's game. He underwent a CT scan, which came back negative, and is questionable for his start against the Kansas City Royals tomorrow night at Camden Yards.

Manager Dave Trembley isn't sure who would replace Burres in the rotation, but he said Triple-A starter Hayden Penn isn't an option. Penn has made only two starts since coming off the disabled list.

Ups and downs

Rather than report to Triple-A Norfolk as originally planned, pitcher Adam Loewen had a shaky appearance at Double-A Bowie in front of Orioles scouts. He allowed two hits, including a solo home run, and a walk, hit a batter and struck out one in two-thirds of an inning.

The team planned to re-evaluate him after the outing.

"He could be back sooner than we first thought," Trembley said before Loewen's outing.

Meanwhile, Rule 5 pick Randor Bierd has reported to Single-A Frederick for his injury rehabilitation assignment and pitched a scoreless inning last night. Bierd, on the DL with a right shoulder impingement, is expected to stay with the Keys until the second week of July before the Orioles determine his status.

Nats on fan offensive

The Nationals have been promoting their series with the Orioles - and themselves and their new stadium - to Baltimore fans. Last month, the Nats sent their "Screech" Eagle mascot and other representatives to distribute team merchandise in the Inner Harbor. "It's a free country," Orioles owner Peter Angelos told The Sun when apprised of the promotion.

Last night, the Nats, eager to arouse interest in the "Battle of the Beltways," had one of their Racing Presidents - a big-headed rendition of Teddy Roosevelt - challenge the Oriole Bird to a race between innings.

The promotion efforts seem to be working. Friday night's announced crowd of 35,830 included plenty of fans wearing orange, and last night's announced crowd was 39,479, a Nationals Park record.

Todd Karpovich contributed to this article.

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