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Surgery to end Carpenter's season
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09/02/2002 5:41 pm ET 
Surgery to end Carpenter's season
Right-hander should be ready for Spring Training
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com

Despite upcoming shoulder surgery, Chris Carpenter expects to be ready to pitch by Spring Training. (Richard Drew/AP)
TORONTO -- Chris Carpenter's season came crashing to a halt Monday when the Blue Jays revealed he will undergo season-ending surgery on his right shoulder later in the week and moved him onto the 60-day disabled list.

Carpenter, Toronto's Opening Day starter, has a small tear in the labrum of his throwing shoulder. Instead of seeking a second opinion or trying to strengthen the shoulder without surgery, the right-hander has opted for arthroscopic surgery in the hopes that he can be ready by Spring Training.

"It's not the best news. Hopefully, we can go in and get it taken care of," Carpenter said moments after Toronto's 5-3 loss to the White Sox. "I'm going to talk with the doctor tomorrow. I don't know how long it's going to be. He's going to let me know after he goes in and gets it done. I'm going to get it done and work my butt off to get back as soon as I can.

"Because everything else is good, except the labrum, I'm going to hope I'll be back and throwing before Spring Training. But I really don't know."

The labrum is a lip-like structure of cartilage that stabilizes the joint. Carpenter said he wasn't sure how he injured it, and he never thought his injury was as bad as it turned out to be. He last pitched on Aug. 13 when he had to leave in the seventh inning because of discomfort in the shoulder.

Initially, the injury was characterized as looseness in the shoulder, perhaps because Carpenter wasn't sure how to explain what he was feeling.

"I just knew that it hurt and it wasn't right," he said. "I was looking forward to finding out what it was going to be, but I didn't think there was anything wrong. Unfortunately, there is. I have one problem and it's the labrum.

"Everything else, they said, is 100 percent and looks great. I think that I'm going to be fine. I think I'm going to be back and good as new, and so does everyone else."

This season was especially difficult for Carpenter. It was interrupted by injuries on three separate occasions. After his Opening Day start, Carpenter went on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. After he came back, he made one start before he was shelved for the same ailment.

Two months later, Carpenter returned to make 11 consecutive starts before being shut down for the final time.

"I never thought there was anything seriously wrong," said the former first-round draft pick. "Every time they did exams and the doctors checked my arm out, there was nothing there. Then, they saw the MRI and there was something there."

The most recent test, done last Thursday, revealed the small tear. Carpenter had a similar test in April, after the first bout with tendinitis, but the tear wasn't there at that point. Either that or the doctors couldn't find it. While an MRI is a good indicator of a pitcher's health, the definitive test is arthroscopic surgery.

Once the doctor can explore the injury, he can decide the extent of the damage.

"They are not 100 percent sure of what they'll find but they're not anticipating anything bad," said Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi. "The doctor says from muscle and structural testing, and the MRI, that there could be something small."

Carpenter's immediate future is in the capable hands of Dr. Anthony Miniaci, Toronto's consulting orthopedic surgeon. He said that he's familiar with Miniaci and he's confident that he can help correct the problem.

"I decided to go to Dr. Miniaci because he's here, he's good, I trust him and I've known him since I've been here in the big leagues," Carpenter said. "He's done a lot of exams on me. He knows my body, knows my shoulder. He knows everything about me. After it's done, all my checkups will be with him. I'm going to stay for the rest of the season and hopefully watch us play well for the rest of the year."

Carpenter, 4-5 this season and 49-50 for his career, had surgery to remove a bone spur in 1999. He said that may allow him to go into the surgery with a relaxed frame of mind, but the intensive rehabilitation may be another story.

"It makes it more comfortable having surgery, but I don't know about the rehab process," he said. "I didn't have to rehab my shoulder. It's a process that I'm going to have to work hard at. I plan on doing everything I can to get back as soon as possible."

Spencer Fordin, who covers the Blue Jays for MLB.com, can be reached at spencer.fordin@mlb.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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