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Brown: 'Instant Relief' After Surgery

June 15, 2002|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Dodger pitcher Kevin Brown arrived at Centinela Hospital Medical Center on June 3, he was asked to rate his lower-back pain on a scale from one to 10.

"I told them that scale was way off," said Brown, who returned to Dodger Stadium on Friday after undergoing surgery for a herniated disk Tuesday. "It didn't go from one to 10. It went from one to eight and eight to 1,000. It was kind of an exponential growth. I couldn't function."

Friday, three days after doctors removed a "large" herniation and a "large number of fragments compressing the nerve" in his lower back, Brown walked into the Dodger clubhouse under his own power. He hugged teammate Andy Ashby. He stood upright. He was free of pain.

"It's like night and day," Brown said. "As soon as I got out of surgery I felt better. I have no doubt in my mind I made the right decision [to have surgery]. I had instant relief. As soon as I woke up."

Usually a pumped-up, 6-foot-4, 225-pounder who rarely shows emotion, the right-hander appeared to have lost at least 20 pounds. His face was a bit gaunt, and his voice cracked during a 10-minute meeting with reporters.

Normally gung-ho when it comes to bouncing back from injuries--he returned from major elbow surgery in a mere six months this season--Brown, 37, seemed humbled by this surgery, which will sideline him for at least a month and possibly the rest of the season.

Asked how confident he was of pitching again this season, Brown said, "I'm hopeful. The doctors haven't made any guarantees. If this is what the Lord has planned for me, I'll do everything I can to take advantage of it. But I'm not going to put the cart before the horse."

The Dodgers believed Brown, who will begin a five-step trunk stabilization program in about two weeks, injured his back while playfully wrestling with one of his sons at home May 29, but Brown said that wasn't the case.

"All I know is I went to bed and was OK, and the next day I tried to get out of bed, and it was really bad," said Brown, in the fourth year of a seven-year, $105-million contract. "I don't think [playing with his son] had anything to do with it, but the first time I felt it was that morning."

Brown said the injury more likely was caused by the torque his pitching delivery produces on his lower back. But he has no plans to alter his motion.

"The idea is to get rid of the problem so you can return to normal function," he said. "The doctors tell you that all it can take to do this is picking up a piece of paper. It's not like you have to be hard on your body to do this."

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