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Angels to Have No Mo in 2001

Baseball: Recovery from operation to repair left biceps tendon will sideline first baseman Vaughn for the season.

February 07, 2001|CHRIS FOSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Angel first baseman Mo Vaughn has been declared out for the season after 2 1/2 hours of reconstructive surgery Tuesday at the Mayo Clinic to repair the biceps tendon and muscle on his left arm.

He will return to his home in Easton, Mass., today and will report to spring training in three weeks to be reevaluated.

"I don't want to anticipate anything that would place undue pressure on Mo," Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman said. "It sounds like the rehabilitation will take longer than the six months we thought it might be."

Stoneman tried to shore up the Angel lineup in mid-January after learning Vaughn, 33, would need surgery. But by then the top free agents were no longer available. He signed the oft-injured Jose Canseco, 36, and Wally Joyner, 38, to minor league contracts.

Joyner, utilityman Scott Spiezio and minor leaguer Larry Barnes will compete to replace Vaughn at first base. Canseco is expected to be the designated hitter and a big year by him could offset the loss of Vaughn's power. But Canseco has played in more than 113 games only once since the 1991 season.

Vaughn batted .272 with 36 home runs and drove in 117 runs in 161 games last season. He also struck out 181 times, tops in the American League.

The Angels have insurance on Vaughn's contract, which covers most of the $11 million he will be paid this season. Canseco and Joyner have incentive-laden contracts should they make the team, and the most they would cost the Angels is $6.95 million.

"I don't know how you lose Mo Vaughn and come up with a clone replacement," Stoneman said. "Canseco, assuming he's healthy and assuming he makes the team, brings us the home-run potential we won't get from Mo now."

A rehabilitation schedule has not been set, but Mark Gillam, Vaughn's business manager, said he will encourage Vaughn to remain with the team.

"There is a tribal instinct with players on a baseball team," Gillam said. "I have another client, Randy Velarde, who was out two seasons while with the Angels. He said to tell Mo to try to be with his teammates as much as he can. It will help him keep his focus and keep his spirits up."

Said Angel Manager Mike Scioscia: "Mo is a presence. I think him being around the team will help us and it will help him get through this too."

Vaughn, according to Gillam, injured his arm swinging at a pitch in a game against the Cleveland Indians last August. He was treated for tendinitis in the arm in September, when he batted .198, striking out 39 times in 111 at-bats.

But Vaughn did not complain about the injury until December.

"Mark Gillam called me [in January] and that was the first indication I had that something could be really wrong," Stoneman said.

Angel team physician Lewis Yocum sent Vaughn to a Mayo Clinic specialist, Bernard Morrey, who performed Tuesday's surgery in Rochester, Minn. Yocum, who will handle Vaughn's recuperation, also was present at the surgery.

"It was a complex and difficult surgery that went very well," Morrey said in a statement.

This is yet a another deep pot hole in Vaughn's brief Angel career.

He signed a six-year, $80-million contract before the 1999 season and was to bring stability to the clubhouse as well as push the Angels into the playoffs. On opening night that season, he fell into the visiting team dugout at Edison Field chasing a pop fly and suffered a severely sprained ankle that bothered him all season.

In August 1999, Vaughn remained in the clubhouse when a fight broke out on the field in Cleveland. Several Angel players threatened to sit out the next game if Vaughn played. That was also the last straw in a dismal season for then-manager Terry Collins, who resigned when the team returned to Anaheim a few days later.

Last month, Vaughn said in an interview with the Boston Globe that he would like to play for an East Coast team again.

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