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May 13, 2010

Johnson might miss 8-10 weeks

Orioles reliever Jim Johnson didn’t get the best news from his visit today to renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.

He said that he was diagnosed with a small tear in his right elbow that will keep him out at least eight to 10 weeks. Johnson will begin a rehabilitation program, and if things don’t improve in four weeks, he could be facing season-ending Tommy John ligament-reconstruction surgery on his right elbow.

"It’s a little bit worse," Johnson said. "All it did was it just changed the timetable. Instead of four to six weeks, now we’re looking at probably closer to eight weeks, maybe 10. But obviously after about a month or so, if there’s no improvement with what we’re doing with the rehab and if it’s still lingering, surgery becomes an option at that point. But we’re pretty optimistic about the rehab first.”

Johnson, who had been one of the club's few reliable relief options over the past two seasons and had two stints as the team's closer, was 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA this season and had allowed 15 hits and four walks over 9 2/3 innings when he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

He pitched one scoreless inning for the Tides before deciding that he needed to get his elbow looked at by Orioles team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens.

Johnson said he was diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and “possibly a low-grade tear,” at the time. He went to Dr. Andrews for a second opinion, which pretty much confirmed Dr. Wilckens' diagnosis. It's just a little worse than Johnson originally though.

“It’s a small tear," he said. "There’s some damage to the [ulnar collateral ligament]. I’m sure there’s a medical term for it, but I’m not sure what it is. It’s stretched out obviously.”

Asked if he just considered having surgery immediately rather than trying to rehab the injury, Johnson said, "“It’s an option, but it’s an option I’m not doing yet. I’m going to go other avenues before we consider that. It’s what the first diagnosis was. It’s just going to push the timetable back a little bit.”

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 12:43 PM | | Comments (9)


That is 3!!! Rich Hill, Michael Gonzalez, and now Jim Johnson who have harmed this club by pitching when hurt (and they all knew it). What were they thinking and why are the Orioles fooled so easily ???

Wow this season has gotten ridiculous with the injuries.

Yeah, it is selfish and unconscionable for these guys to pitch when they are hurt.

But the thing is, baseball players, indeed athletes in general, are conditioned to pitch or play in pain. It's just the normal cost of doing business.
So, I don't think you can blame them totally. I would rather a guy try to work thru it rather than a guy take half a season off because of an ingrown toe nail, as one highly publicized acquisition did a few years ago.

That being said, when a guy is in so much pain he can't brush his teeth, then something has to be done. If that's what those guys did, then they were indeed wrong.

I feel bad for JJ, but on the other hand, I'm kind of pissed off at him as well. It appears that this is another one of those situations where a player wasn't being honest with his team about his health. It's such a selfish decision. I'm sure he told himself he was trying the play through it "for his teammates," but in reality he wasn't going to be able to pitch effectively and was risking further injury every time he took the mound. He's an adult and should know he was only hurting his teammates by doing so. At its core, he was serving the selfish desire all players have to be on the field and not in the trainers' room. Not sure what can be done, but the leagues have to figure out a way to get these guys to be honest about their health.

"I can't straighten my arm and my ERA is over 6 runs a game, but I'm available to pitch Dave" - paraphrasing of Jim Johnson's position.

This nonsense has got to stop.

Good thing McPhail "wasn't too concerned"... this team's medical staff must be just as bad as its manager, GM and owner

Injuries wouldn't be nearly as taxing if the team had even the slightest bit of depth.

I can't believe these people who criticize Johnson for WANTING TO PLAY THROUGH THE PAIN. These are the same poeple who jump all over Roberts or Jones or whomever for taking a day off when their hurting. Is Johnson an orthopedic surgeon? Does he know how badly he's hurt, especially at first? Most modern pro athletes, with the exception of hockey players, are such nambies that they take a day off for a "tweaked hangnail." I applaud JJ and BRob and Gonzales for trying to tough it out. My old high school basketball coach used to say, "You can play with pain; you can't play with an injury." I say, you can't blame an athlete for wanting to be on the field.

In most cases if you are playing in pain as a pitcher then you have an injury. If you want to play because you are hurt then you have no common sense and are just hurting yourself and your team. Jim Johnson needs to go ahead and get the Tommy John surgery because he isn't going to rehab it and be successful. Get the surgery and hope it works so you can be back playing sometime next summer, maybe!

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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