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Drew Hopes to Be Healthy Alternative

Outfielder will meet with Dodger team doctors today, wants to put injuries behind him.

November 30, 2005|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

Ned Colletti is expected to meet with J.D. Drew this week at Dodger Stadium, and somebody should remind the new general manager to take extreme caution when shaking hands with the outfielder.

A pat on the shoulder is not advised, either.

Drew traveled from his rural Georgia home Tuesday to make an appointment today with Dodger physicians Frank Jobe and Norman Zemel. He missed the second half of last season because of a broken left wrist, and had surgery in September on his right wrist.

But the body part he is most concerned about is his right shoulder. Jobe and Zemel cleaned out cartilage and repaired a frayed labrum at the same time they operated on the right wrist.

"The shoulder is what I am being careful about," Drew said. "If given the correct amount of healing time, it will regenerate. It takes four months from the surgery to heal, and that should be just in time for spring training."

Drew, the highest paid Dodger with four years and $44 million left on his contract, wants to overcome his reputation for getting injured too often and taking too long to recover.

His numbers in 72 games were solid -- a .286 batting average, 15 home runs, 36 runs batted in, a .412 on-base percentage and .520 slugging percentage. And it's hard to fault him for getting hit by the pitch that broke his left wrist July 3.

But he hasn't played more than 145 games in a season and is averaging only 114 games a year in his career. Drew, who will make a charity appearance Thursday at Operation Christmas Child in Santa Ana, spoke to Colletti on the phone recently and said he was optimistic about a making fresh start.

"I feel very positive about the outlook," Drew said.

Something he didn't mention to Colletti is that he wants to play center field. Last year he expressed the same sentiment but moved to right when Milton Bradley staked claim to center.

Now it appears the trouble-prone Bradley will be traded or not offered a contract. Many teams are wary of acquiring him, but Oakland and a few others have expressed interest.

"If it works out for me in center, it'd be great," Drew said. "It's something I'd like to fall back into. It's definitely a fun place to play, especially at Dodger Stadium."

Among Dodger needs is a reliable leadoff batter, and one solution Colletti has explored is speedy Tampa Bay center fielder Joey Gathright, who stole 20 bases in limited action last season.

The Dodgers also are negotiating with free agent Rafael Furcal, the veteran Atlanta Brave shortstop and leadoff batter.

Colletti met with Furcal's agent, Adam Katz, Tuesday night and Furcal is expected to choose between the Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Braves.

The Dodgers are one of several teams who have shown strong interest in free-agent corner outfielder Brian Giles, who has expressed a desire to play on the West Coast and who also said he would not re-sign with San Diego.

Complicating the Dodger outfield is the uncertain status of left fielder Jayson Werth, who is not expected to be ready for spring training after having surgery on his left wrist more than a week ago. Zemel inserted pins to repair a complete ligament tear near the base of Werth's hand, which was put in a cast Monday for six weeks.

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