Anderson tears labrum again

By John Hickey
March 13, 2002

PEORIA, Ariz.–Another spring, another bitter disappointment for Ryan Anderson.

It was just over a year ago that Anderson had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. With his shoulder still giving him trouble early in spring training, Anderson had an MRI.

The bad news didn't wait long to hit: Anderson has another tear of the labrum, in a different spot than the one repaired last March 6 by Dr. James Andrews. Anderson, 22, will have surgery later in March and will miss the entire 2002 season.

“It's a serious injury that will keep him out for the year,” Mariners trainer Rick Griffin said. “We know he has to have surgery. He's going to get a second opinion, then sit down with his family and his agent and decide on the next step.

“To miss one whole season, to work hard to come back, then to learn you've got to do it all over again, that's tough. He took it like a professional, though. He's had something taken from him two years in a row now, but he wants to get it fixed and get on with his baseball.”

Anderson wasn't around the Seattle camp after the news hit. Manager Lou Piniella, however, took the news hard.

“We were hoping to get him ready to pitch this year,” Piniella said. “We were hoping that it wouldn't come to this. It's a shame that it has. He's going to miss the whole year now.”

And pitching coach Bryan Price said Anderson now is back to square one.

“I feel for the kid,” Price said. “He was trying to regenerate his baseball life. And now this. It's a big setback. This is bad.”

This is the second labrum injury to hit the Mariners this spring. Catcher Blake Barthol had an MRI with similar results two weeks ago. And righthander Gil Meche, who had labrum surgery 13 months ago, is just now rounding into shape; he pitched his first inning since the surgery, underscoring the length of recuperation and rehabilitation.

The results of the MRI were read locally by the radiologist who performed the examination, and had not been examined by Seattle's medical director, Dr. Larry Pedegana. The results were shipped to Pedegana overnight for a final diagnosis.

Anderson, the Mariners' first-round pick in the 1997 draft, has immense talent. For each of the last five seasons, Baseball America has ranked him as one of the top 25 prospects in the game.

But he has been plagued by injuries. In his first full season, 1998,he went on the disabled list for a month with a strained left tricep. In the 2000 season, he lost five weeks of the season to a strained left shoulder. In the spring of 2001 he first came down with labrum trouble. And now it's struck again.

Seattle starter Paul Abbott, whose medical history includes 11 trips to the disabled list, said Anderson's youth should help him get along.

“Surgery is part of the game,” Abbott said. “Walk into any big league clubhouse and over half the guys have had surgery. It's going to be hard for him, but he's young and he's got time on his side.”

Another Seattle pitcher, Ken Cloude, has faced similar difficulties. Cloude is working his way back after missing two years because of Tommy John surgery, followed by surgery to repair a ruptured achilles tendon.

“This reminds me a lot of Cloude,” Price said. “He's another one who came back, then had a huge setback. It's tough.”

John Hickey covers the Mariners for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.