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BASEBALL EXTRA | DODGER REPORT : NOTES

Dreifort on Disabled List Because of Elbow Tendinitis

May 14, 1997|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Dodger reliever Darren Dreifort, considered one of the best setup men in baseball, was put on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday night because of tendinitis in his right elbow.

Dreifort, who missed the entire 1995 season after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery, does not have any tears or structural damage, according to Dr. Frank Jobe, but the Dodgers believe it will be best for him to rest for at least two weeks.

The Dodgers recalled hard-throwing Antonio Osuna from triple-A Albuquerque to take his place on the roster. Osuna was 1-1 with a 1.93 earned-run average at Albuquerque, striking out 26 and walking only four in 14 innings.

"It doesn't appear to be anything significant in nature," said Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president, "but it's something we have to be cautious about. Nobody is saying anything that would send up the red flag, but when you have surgery like he's had, and there's a little pain there, you have to look at it.

"We don't want any lingering doubts."

Dreifort, who pitched a scoreless inning Sunday, complained of pain in the elbow after leaving the game. Trainer Charlie Strasser became concerned and telephoned Claire at home.

Dreifort was examined Monday by Jobe, who reported no damage to the elbow but prescribed rest.

Dreifort, the primary setup man for closer Todd Worrell, was having his finest season since being selected with the Dodgers' first pick in the 1993 June free-agent draft. He was 1-0 with a 3.07 ERA and was yielding a meager .163 batting average.

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Dodger center fielder Brett Butler, on the disabled list because of torn cartilage in his left shoulder, said he will retire if he can't return as an everyday player.

"If I can't throw, what's the sense of me going out there?" Butler said. "Let's face it, if I can't throw, I'm through. That's it."

Butler is sleeping through the night without pain in his shoulder and has shown less discomfort, but it would be a modern-day miracle if the injury were to quickly heal without surgery.

"It's certainly not going to happen in two weeks, but it could heal itself," said Pat Screnar, Dodger physical therapist. "But you're talking months."

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Dodger second baseman Wilton Guerrero, still suffering from a strained left shoulder, was benched because Cub left-hander Terry Mulholland started the game. Guerrero, a switch-hitter, still is unable to bat right-handed. He likely will sit again Thursday, Dodger Manager Bill Russell said, when they are scheduled to face left-hander John Smiley of the Cincinnati Reds. . . . Dodger pinch-hitter Nelson Liriano, who has been sidelined because of a strained rib cage muscle, took batting practice for the first time in several days and said he feels good enough to play. . . . The Cubs commemorated the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson with a presentation that included Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks and Buck O'Neil, the first African American coach in baseball with the Cubs in 1962. . . . Charlie Pride sang the national anthem, prompting visits from Dodger assistant trainer Stan Johnston and Strasser, big country-western fans. . . . Dodger pitcher Hideo Nomo filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the wife of the Padres' Tony Gwynn, claiming she did not have permission to sell jigsaw puzzles with his picture to a Japanese company. The action against Alicia Gwynn and her San Diego-based A.G. Sport Inc. seeks at least $465,000 in general damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

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