Devil Rays' Saunders Won't Come Back

Saturday, August 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — An emotional Tony Saunders said Saturday that he would not try to pitch again after breaking his left arm in a game for the second time in 15 months.

The 26-year-old's bid to continue his career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays ended abruptly Thursday night when his pitching arm snapped in the same general area as it did in May 1999.

About a minute into a news conference at Tropicana Field, Saunders broke down. Wiping tears away, he said: ``It's just hard knowing you're done.''

Saunders said he had done all he could to make a full recovery from the first broken arm but would not go through that struggle again.

``I can't do it again,'' he said. ``Not physically or mentally, but I don't know what's going to happen and I want my health. And this time by me just breaking it, and there not being any nerve damage, it could be a blessing because I still do have my health.''

Saunders, pitching in a minor league game for Class A St. Petersburg on Thursday night, crumpled to the ground in agony on the 33rd pitch of an outing scheduled to last four innings or no more than 60 pitches.

He underwent surgery to reset the bone at Bayfront Medical Center, and was released Friday afternoon. The team said he would return to his home in Baltimore.

Dr. Koco Eaton, the Devil Rays' orthopedic physician, said the fracture occurred in the same general area of the humerus — the bone running from the shoulder to the elbow — that Saunders originally injured on May 26, 1999, against the Texas Rangers.