Surgery on shoulder likely for Fossum

By Times Staff
Published September 6, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - Pitcher Casey Fossum appears headed for surgery to repair fraying of the labrum in his left shoulder but is expected to be ready for spring training.

Fossum said he will know the specific plan today after Dr. James Andrews reviews an MRI exam; Fossum had a similar problem repaired surgically after the 2003 season.

"We'll have him check it out, compare it to the last surgery's MRI and go from there," Fossum said. "There's definitely something going on and I don't know if they can rehab it."

If Fossum needs surgery, the Rays want him to have it as soon as possible to get ready for next season, for which he is signed for $2.2-million. Fossum had the prior surgery in October 2003 and missed the first five weeks of the next season, then went 4-15 with a 6.65 ERA, giving up 31 homers in 27 games.

"They're saying I could be ready by spring training," Fossum said.

Fossum, 6-6 this season with a 5.33 ERA, said it was frustrating trying to pitch through the injury, which prevented him from throwing where he wanted.

"It's disappointing," he said. "On the other hand, I'm glad to know they found the problem. I just went as long as I could."

Also, DH Jonny Gomes had successful surgery Tuesday in Cincinnati to "clean out" his right shoulder. He is expected to be ready for spring training.

NEW KIDS IN TOWN: Manager Joe Maddon said he was "curious" to see how reliever Juan Salas, who was tremendous in the minors, would do against big-league hitters and planned to use him promptly.

He did in the seventh inning but it didn't go well as Salas, after getting two quick outs, allowed a walk, a double, a triple and a hard-hit ball Delmon Young misplayed for a two-base error and threw a wild pitch.

"It felt good," Salas said. "I was a little nervous, but not as much as I expected."

Salas, 29, was 4-1 with 17 saves and a remarkable 0.71 ERA in 50 games between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him," Maddon said. "I really liked him in spring training a lot. I was really impressed with him."

Catcher Shawn Riggans, also called up from Durham, got his opportunity as a pinch-hitter for Rocco Baldelli in the bottom of the ninth, and responded with a single to left. But Maddon doesn't plan to use Riggans in a starting role against the contending Twins, A's and Yankees.

"I want him to settle in a little bit and really get to understand what we're doing," Maddon said. "Hey, I have a lot of faith in him. He's going to be good."

The Fort Lauderdale native, 26, enjoyed his first day on the new job, especially with his father and girlfriend attending the game.

"It's something you dream about," he said following his debut. "I'm glad I could do it here with my family in the stands."

PITCHING IN: The Rays hope to get rookie Brian Stokes another start or two before the end of the season but will skip at least his next turn, with James Shields, J.P. Howell and Jae Seo slated to start in the weekend series against Oakland.

MINOR MATTERS: Class A Visalia opens the California League best-of-three first-round playoffs tonight against Stockton (A's) with ace James Houser on the mound. Jonathan Barratt will start Game 2 and Derek Feldkamp Game 3. The Oaks won the season series 16-9. ... Double-A Montgomery will start Jeff Niemann in Thursday's Southern League best-of-five opener at Jacksonville (Dodgers), with Andy Sonnanstine in Game 2 and Mitch Talbot in Game 3. Left-hander Mike Prochaska, who had been promoted to Triple A, will rejoin the Biscuits for the playoffs. ... The Rays finished with an overall 337-359 mark. ... Kevin Witt won the Round-Tripper Award, the Bauman trophy and $7,200 for hitting a minor-league best 36 homers. Visalia's Sergio Pedroza, acquired from the Dodgers in the Julio Lugo trade, won the Class A award with 28 and gets $500.

MISCELLANY: Of the Rays' 31 active players, 19 were not on the opening day roster. ... Baldelli will be honored pregame tonight as the Rays' nominee for the Roberto Clemente award and will donate $2,500 to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. His younger brother Dante is allergic to peanuts. ... No Triple-A coaches are expected to be called up to join the big-league staff. ... Minnesota's Jason Tyner, an ex-Ray, has 1,004 big-league at-bats without a homer. ... The Rays had nine straight games decided by three runs or fewer and were 3-6.

- MARC TOPKIN and DAVE SCHEIBER, Staff writers