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Edmonds Defends His Decision

Angels: Outfielder thought he could put off shoulder surgery.

April 22, 1999|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TORONTO — Jim Edmonds took strong exception to media reports that characterized him as something of an outcast on the team and stories that questioned the wisdom of his decision to put off the shoulder surgery he will have today.

The center fielder will be sidelined for at least four months after getting cartilage repaired in his right (non-throwing) shoulder, a procedure Edmonds said he regretted not having last October but one he thought he could put off until after the season because he has played with the condition for years.

"What the heck are you doing? Are you trying to ruin my image? My career?" said Edmonds, who berated two reporters by phone before Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays. "Why are you trying to get everyone against me?"

Resentment toward Edmonds seemed to build before the season, when he aggravated a four-year-old shoulder injury lifting weights. Some wondered why Edmonds, sidelined by groin and lower back problems, was in the weight room.

On April 7, after opening the season on the disabled list, Edmonds told reporters he wished he had had the shoulder repaired in the off-season.

When asked to react to news that Edmonds would undergo surgery, several players declined comment for the record, and many in the clubhouse said the Angels would be fine without him. "We're gonna have a great team . . . regardless of who's on the field," Darin Erstad said.

Edmonds said the criticism was unfair.

"I put myself in this position; think of how I feel," said Edmonds, who played most of 1997 on two banged-up knees that required surgery after that season.

"I could have had surgery over the winter--I could have had it four or five years ago--like it's anyone's business what I do? You act like I don't want to be out there [playing]. That's not the case."

Regardless of Edmonds' motives, it's clear his recent actions created tension in the clubhouse. First baseman Mo Vaughn even acknowledged having a put-up-or-shut-up-type talk with Edmonds before the season.

"Jim Edmonds is one of the most talented guys I've ever played with--the responsibility is what's in question," Vaughn said. "We all have to be on the same page to be successful. If you're not, you shouldn't be here."

Vaughn said there's plenty of time for Edmonds to make amends.

"He should want to," Vaughn said. "If you accept responsibility and change, that's what people remember."

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