Sanchez Out Again With Broken Pitching Shoulder
Monday, March 26th 2007, 7:43 pm
News On 6
NEW YORK (AP) _ Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez has a broken bone in his pitching shoulder and is expected to be sidelined until at least August.
Sanchez hasn't pitched for New York since July, when he separated the same shoulder in a taxi accident and had surgery. Before that injury, he was having a stellar 2006 season as the primary setup man for closer Billy Wagner.
The right-hander, disciplined in spring training this year for repeated tardiness, felt a pop in his right shoulder Thursday and cut short his first bullpen session in eight months after 11 pitches.
He said he didn't feel any major pain on the pitch, and he was examined by Dr. Dan Tomlinson, who said scar tissue had broken loose. The pitcher was treated with ice.
But Sanchez flew to New York last weekend for tests and was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of a small bone in the front of his right shoulder.
``I wasn't expecting it at all,'' Sanchez said Monday in Port St. Lucie, Fla. ``It's frustrating. I feel like I let my teammates down.''
Surgery is recommended, the Mets said, but Sanchez was still weighing his options. The procedure would involve securing the bone with a small screw.
The 27-year-old Sanchez probably could resume his rehabilitation within six to eight weeks after surgery. Another six to eight weeks after that, he could begin throwing in a competitive situation.
If he chooses not to have surgery, however, doctors don't have a timetable for Sanchez's return because the injury is so rare, general manager Omar Minaya said.
The news came on the same day that suspended reliever Guillermo Mota arrived at camp. Mota won't be available to pitch until at least late May after he tested positive last year for a performance-enhancing substance.
Sanchez went 5-1 with a 2.60 ERA last season, helping the Mets build a big lead en route to their first NL East title since 1988.
After his taxi accident in Miami and the surgery that followed, Sanchez reported to camp overweight this year. He was sent home for two days by manager Willie Randolph after repeatedly showing up late for rehabilitation.
Minaya also said the club was concerned about changes in Sanchez's throwing motion after the surgery. The GM said doctors think the latest injury is a result of the car crash last year.
``The impact was so strong that the aftereffect could be that once he started throwing the hairline fracture could happen,'' Minaya said.
The Mets' strong bullpen was a big reason they advanced to Game 7 of the NL championship series last year before losing to St. Louis. The unit was expected to be a strength again this season, but it will certainly have a different look.
Chad Bradford signed with Baltimore, Darren Oliver joined the Los Angeles Angels and Roberto Hernandez left for Cleveland. Heath Bell and Royce Ring were traded to San Diego for reserve outfielder Ben Johnson and another reliever, Jon Adkins.
Mota will miss the first 50 games while serving his suspension. And hard-throwing right-hander Ambiorix Burgos, acquired from Kansas City in an offseason trade for Brian Bannister, has been a disappointment in spring training.
Three of the team's top relievers, however, are back: Wagner, setup man Aaron Heilman and lefty Pedro Feliciano, who was 7-2 with a 2.09 ERA last season.
New York also signed left-hander Scott Schoeneweis and right-hander Chan Ho Park, who was bumped to the bullpen last weekend after failing to win a spot in the rotation during spring training.
``We'll continue to get guys ready to pick up the slack until he gets back,'' Randolph said.
Mota showed up in Port St. Lucie to begin preparing for his projected return in late May. He was welcomed back by his teammates and said he had been working out at home in the Dominican Republic.
``That's my goal, proving to everybody that I'm a good pitcher,'' Mota said.
The right-hander issued an apology soon after he was suspended and said he received calls in the offseason from teammates Pedro Martinez, Shawn Green and Paul Lo Duca.
``I think everyone was surprised what happened,'' Green said. ``But you move on.''
Lo Duca, the team's feisty catcher and a close friend of Mota's, said the pitcher's apology helped clear the air.
``He made a mistake and he knows it,'' Lo Duca said. ``No one's perfect, and people have done a lot worse things in this world.
``I'm happy to see him, and you could tell this is where he wants to be.''
Mota became a free agent in the offseason before re-signing with the Mets for $5 million over two years. He was 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 18 games with New York last year after going 1-3 with a 6.21 ERA in 34 games for Cleveland.