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DODGERS REPORT

Surgery Recommended for Martinez

June 20, 1998|JASON REID

Three physicians have recommended that all-star pitcher Ramon Martinez undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, and Dodger officials agree.

But Martinez still hasn't accepted the reality of the situation, so the organization is giving him time to adjust. Martinez was put on the 15-day disabled list Friday (retroactive to Sunday), and the right-hander said he will use the time to evaluate his options.

"I just wanted to get opinions from different doctors to feel comfortable," Martinez said. "I have that now, so I have to think about what I want to do.

"It's my decision to have surgery or come back [through rehabilitation], and I'm going to decide. I just want to think about it and decide what's best for me, because it's a very tough decision."

Team officials are resigned to Martinez undergoing surgery, which would sideline him indefinitely. That has become inevitable in the wake of recommendations made this week by physicians Frank Jobe, Lewis Yocum and James Andrews--among the nation's leading sports-injury specialists--that Martinez needs the procedure to repair his damaged throwing shoulder.

An MRI exam Monday by Jobe, the Dodger team physician, revealed that Martinez has suffered an increased right rotator cuff tear and a cartilage tear. He declined to undergo surgery when his initial rotator cuff tear was revealed last season, and he returned to pitch after missing 10 starts and 51 games while undergoing rehabilitation.

Although Martinez hoped to follow that path again, surgery was the most likely option because of the additional damage.

"Obviously, this is a very important decision for Ramon," said Fred Claire, executive vice president. "But it's not one that he has to make in 24 or 48 hours.

"All I've tried to do is lay out the information and give Ramon the time to think about it. We respect [Ramon] enough to know that he will make the right decision."

Officials expect Martinez, 30, to ultimately have surgery, which will put his future with the organization in doubt. The team will not pick up the $5.6-million option in his contract for next season, buying it out for $600,000.

It is not known how long the nine-year veteran, who signed with the Dodgers at 16, will be sidelined. Some pitchers fail to recover from the procedure and grueling rehabilitation process.

"It's difficult to say what the time frame is as far as recovery time," said Pat Screnar, team physical therapist. "You can't determine that until you [undergo surgery].

"If he had surgery, he definitely would be done this year. How much that would go into 1999 is difficult to say, and I wouldn't even want to speculate on that."

*

The Dodgers recalled catcher Paul LoDuca from triple-A Albuquerque to take Martinez's spot on the 25-man roster because catcher Charles Johnson left the team Friday to attend his grandmother's funeral in Ft. Pierce, Fla. If Johnson rejoins the team as expected Sunday, LoDuca would be optioned to Albuquerque and the Dodgers would add a pitcher. Right-hander Manny Barrios, who was obtained from the Florida Marlins in the Mike Piazza trade, is among those being considered for the spot. He is 1-1 with a 3.66 earned-run average in 10 games for the Dukes. Other candidates include right-handers Darren Hall, who is on a rehabilitation assignment, and Gary Rath of the Dukes, who was recalled earlier this month. . . . The team purchased the contract of former Dodger outfielder/infielder Matt Luke from the Cleveland Indians. Luke was claimed from waivers by the Indians June 9 after the Dodgers designated him for assignment May 29. Cleveland designated him Monday. The Dodgers made room for him by designating Thomas Howard for assignment. . . . The team signed Bubba Crosby, its first-round selection in the free-agent draft. Crosby, an outfielder who played collegiately at Rice, will report to single-A San Bernardino. Terms were not disclosed. . . . Dodger second baseman Eric Young missed his third consecutive game because of a sore thigh. . . . Colorado's Larry Walker was put the disabled list because of lingering soreness in his right elbow.

TONIGHT

DODGERS'

DENNIS REYES

(0-2, 3.38 ERA)

vs.

ROCKIES'

JOHN THOMSON

(5-6, 5.02 ERA)

Coors Field, 5 PDT.

TV--Channel 5. Radio--AM 1150, KWKW (1330).

* Update--For now, Reyes will assume Martinez's spot in the rotation. The left-hander is making his first start of the season.

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