L.A. All-Star escapes sans Tommy John

By wire services
Published June 25, 2005

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Eric Gagne did not need elbow ligament replacement surgery, and the Los Angeles Dodgers' All-Star closer should return much sooner than expected.

Gagne had season-ending surgery on his right elbow Friday. But Dr. Frank Jobe and Dr. Ralph Gambardella, who performed the surgery at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic, discovered less damage than expected. Originally expected to miss 12-14 months, Gagne's recovery time has been reduced to six, and he will be ready for spring training.

"When they got in there, they were extremely pleased with what they saw - and so was I," manager Jim Tracy said before the Dodgers and Angels began a three-game series at Angel Stadium.

The doctors found a slight amount of fraying from the original graft that was sutured when Gagne had Tommy John surgery in 1997. There also were a couple of nerves that had scarred down onto the graft, which was causing Gagne considerable discomfort. So the doctors did a little shaving in the area, which relieved the pressure those nerves were placing on the graft, and sutured a couple of spots.

"They did not have to replace the ligament. It's very, very encouraging news," Tracy said. "We're talking about a guy who has the opportunity to resume the pursuit of becoming possibly the best closer that's ever done it in the history of the game."

Two suspended for throwing fits

NEW YORK - Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli and Seattle first baseman Richie Sexson were each suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball after each threw objects onto the field following separate ejections last weekend.

Mazzilli was disciplined after he threw a tray of bubble gum onto the field following his ejection from Sunday's 4-2 loss to Colorado. Mazzilli was arguing that a ball hit by Chris Gomez that was called foul should have been ruled a home run. It was Mazzilli's first ejection since he took over as the Orioles' manager before last season.

Sexson was ejected after arguing a called third strike in the third inning of the Mariners' 4-1 win over the New York Mets on June 18. After being thrown out, Sexson slammed his helmet on the field in disgust. He then threw a bucket of baseballs on the field in front of Seattle's dugout.

Sexson was set to begin serving his suspension when the Mariners played at San Diego. Mazzilli will not start serving his suspension until after he has had a chance to discuss the matter with Major League Baseball.

FIRE DELAYS GAME: The start of the Cardinals' game against the Pirates was delayed 30 minutes because a fire in downtown forced the closure of highways leading to Busch Stadium. The blaze at an industrial plant sent huge fireballs shooting into the sky and cast a towering cloud of black smoke over the area but apparently caused no injuries.

CARDINALS: St. Louis activated outfielder Roger Cedeno from the 15-day disabled list, then designated him for assignment. ... Reliever Randy Flores was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of an unusual injury: When he removed his sock following a two-inning stint Thursday night, a large patch of skin came off with it.

NATIONALS: Washington got an unexpected visitor when they returned to RFK Stadium after a nine-game road trip: President Bush. Bush was joined in the stands by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, brother Marvin Bush and the president's nominee as U.S. ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton - a Bush cousin by marriage. They appeared in the front row of an open, mezzanine-level box along the third-base line.

REDS: Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion was called up from Triple-A Louisville and placed outfielder Kenny Kelly on the 15-day disabled list. Kelly had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday to repair torn meniscus damaged this week in a game against the Cardinals.

RED SOX: Curt Schilling moved closer to returning to Boston's rotation, throwing another simulated game. Schilling, sidelined with a right ankle injury since April 24, is expected to pitch in a bullpen session Sunday and make a start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday.

MINOR LEAGUE: Five minor-leaguers were suspended for 15 games by the commissioner's office for violating baseball's minor league drug policy: Jeffrey Bruksch, a pitcher in the Cincinnati organization; Sergio Garcia, an infielder in the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system; Brian Walker, a pitcher in the New York Mets' system; Jeffrey Kennard, a pitcher in the Yankees' organization; and Josh Carter, an outfielder with Philadelphia.