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Dodgers deal with damaged arms

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 22, 2001


Forget the Red Sox, White Sox and Indians.

No team has been affected as much by injuries to pitchers as the Dodgers this season.

Darren Dreifort (torn ligament) and Andy Ashby (torn flexor muscle) are out for the season. Kevin Brown may be added to that list in a month.

All told, that's more than $182-million worth of injured arms.

"It's very freaky, if you ask me, to have this many injuries and the types of injuries we've had this year," Dodgers trainer Stan Johnston said. "It's just a bad-luck year. ... You look at (Dreifort) and (Ashby) and even (Brown), it's hard to predict how many throws there are in an arm."

Brown, who went on the disabled list for the third time this season on Monday, has a severe sprain in a muscle in his elbow.

The right-hander (8-4, 2.95) will be re-evaluated in one month. Season-ending surgery could happen, though team officials remain optimistic of a late August or early September return.

"The plan is to see how he does," team orthopedist Dr. Frank Jobe said. "I'm pushing for a month, and he's pushing for a week. That's the way Kevin Brown is."

HELLO AND GOODBYE: Say what you want about Cal Ripken's home run in the All-Star Game -- grooved or not by Chan Ho Park -- but the future Hall of Famer appears to on his way to be ending his career in style.

Ripken, who will retire at the end of this season, hit two homers July 14 in his final game in Atlanta and followed that with one in the Orioles' final game against the Marlins on Tuesday. The night before, Ripken's 15-game hitting streak ended.

"I've been swinging the bat pretty well," he said Tuesday. "The last two at-bats were maybe my best at-bats of the year."

ROCKER CONT'D: Indians fans shouldn't expect to see reliever John Rocker in any pressure-filled situations for the time being, according to manager Charlie Manuel.

Rocker, who had six losses, four blown saves and an 8.03 ERA in 13 appearances before Thursday, was moved out of the closer's role on Tuesday.

"I need to rest him and use him in situations that will allow him to get his stuff back and his confidence back," Manuel said.

SUBTLE REMINDER: Not until he registered career hit No. 1,999 did Bobby Bonilla learn he was closing in on a milestone.

Bonilla has teammate Edgar Renteria to thank for a last-minute heads-up.

Bonilla's single in the fifth inning of St. Louis' game against Houston on Wednesday was his 2,000th.

"You tell me when I've only got one left?" Bonilla recalled telling Renteria jokingly. "You couldn't tell me when I had 10 left, so I could have a countdown or something?"

FAMILIAR FACES: Until the Cardinals swept a three-game interleague series against the Twins, Minnesota manager Tom Kelly and St. Louis' Tony La Russa were 61-61 when managing against one another.

The two have opposed one another in 15 of past 16 seasons, the exception being the 1996 season.

"I've always thought he was really on top of things," La Russa said of Kelly. "In all departments -- whether it was filling out the lineups, the offensive side, the defensive side, pitching.

"If he's got speed, he manages speed. If he's got power, he manages power. I just think he's very qualified."

BY THE NUMBERS: In search of additional power, J.T. Snow was back with the Giants on Sunday after missing three weeks with a groin strain. The first baseman was 7-for-12 in his first four games. ... Jeff Bagwell hit for the cycle Wednesday, becoming the first Astros player to do so since Andujar Cedeno in Aug. 25, 1992. ... Outfielder Roger Cedeno recently rejected the Tigers' three-year, $13.5-million contract offer. A free agent after this season, Cedeno went 6-for-8 with six runs, six RBI, two homers, one double and one triple in a doubleheader against the Yankees on Wednesday.

THE LAST WORD: "What do they have to lose? Nothing. Am I as good or better than anybody pitching for them now? Absolutely. Are they afraid I might get hurt and land on the DL and they'd have to pay me the rest of the year? I'll sign a waiver, whatever they want.

"Do they want to pay me the major-league minimum? Let me pitch, fill this place and they'll make money, get that $200,000 back in one game. Does it make a difference whether I win or lose? No. Look at the standings. Do I have anything to prove in Triple-A? No, I don't." -- Pitcher Jose Rijo, who will make his third start for Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday and has an eye on joining the Reds soon. The 36-year-old, who has had four arm surgeries, last pitched in the majors in 1995.

- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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