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DODGER REPORT

Dreifort's Knee a Big Concern

May 31, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

With pitcher Darren Dreifort facing another career-threatening medical situation, the Dodgers expressed hope Friday that Dreifort's arthritic right knee won't prevent him from completing the season.

However, the Dodgers acknowledged that the injury-plagued right-hander's condition could worsen, putting Dreifort's career in jeopardy again. After twice recovering from reconstructive surgery on his pitching elbow, Dreifort faces another major challenge.

"I don't really have a good solution," team physician Frank Jobe said after examining Dreifort at Dodger Stadium. "Arthritic knees don't usually get better.

"The best case would be that we find a little channel that he can operate in that doesn't hurt. He'll have some kind of pain, but we'll want to get it to the point where it's tolerable."

With the Dodgers off Monday, Manager Jim Tracy has shuffled the rotation, skipping Dreifort to give him as much rest as possible.

Dreifort is scheduled to pitch again June 7, giving him nine days' rest. And with four more days off in June, Tracy and pitching coach Jim Colborn will continue to put Dreifort's needs first.

Jobe said Dreifort, who underwent knee surgery last July and while in college, would receive another injection to lubricate the joint. Dreifort's knee has been heavily taped when he pitches, and Jobe believes Dreifort might benefit from wearing a knee brace.

"If we do all of those things and give him medication," Jobe said, "we'll get him through the year."

Dreifort was understandably upset after meeting with Jobe.

"I don't know if it's going to work, I don't think anybody really knows at this point," said Dreifort, 4-4 with a 4.03 earned-run average. "That's why we're doing this, to try to find out." Surgery is an option if Dreifort's knee doesn't respond to the program, although it might not help much. Dreifort is owed $25 million after this season.

"We were worried about his elbow for so many years," Jobe said, "and now that's working fine."

*

Left fielder Brian Jordan hoped he would be able to play after taking batting practice in the indoor cages, but his bruised left hand didn't cooperate. "I'm really blessed that it's not broken, so that's what I have to feel good about," said Jordan, listed as day-to-day after being hit by a pitch in Wednesday's 6-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. ... Dave Roberts (strained right hamstring) went hitless in three at-bats and scored a run Friday night for triple-A Las Vegas. Roberts is expected to be activated Sunday. ... Reliever Troy Brohawn, on the disabled list since May 13 because of left rotator cuff tendinitis, is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery Tuesday at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood. Team physician Ralph Gambardella will perform the procedure on the left-hander, expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks. Brohawn is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 12 appearances. ... An MRI exam of infielder-outfielder Daryle Ward's sore right hand did not reveal ligament damage, Jobe said. Ward, batting .169, is suffering from inflammation of his joints caused by swinging a bat too much, Jobe said.

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