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Big Unit to Have surgery


Sep 2, 2002
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Johnson to undergo knee surgery
Brenly: Ace will miss between three and six weeks
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com

Randy Johnson will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday and miss three to six weeks. (AP Photo)?

PHOENIX -- Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Thursday in Phoenix. The procedure will likely sideline him for three to six weeks.
Arizona manager Bob Brenly said that a magnetic resonance imaging test taken of Johnson's knee Wednesday showed debris that needs to be removed. Team physician Dr. Michael Lee will perform the procedure.

"We're hoping that this procedure will eliminate what has been causing the swelling, and if that's the case, than hopefully it won't be a problem for the remainder of the year," Brenly said.

The knee first began bothering Johnson after he allowed 10 runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Brewers on April 11. He was scratched from his next start and the team eventually put him on the disabled list, April 21 retroactive to April 12.

An MRI taken at the time showed the same cartilage debris as the one taken Wednesday, but the team elected to take a conservative approach at the time and see if Johnson could avoid surgery.

"It shows, No. 1, a lot of fluid in the knee, which we already knew," Lee said of the MRI. "The second thing it shows, it has some small (cartilage) pieces. Those are some small loose bodies that have fragmented off a little bit and are probably causing the irritation of the knee. He does not appear to have any obvious (ligament) injuries."

Lee said it's possible that the debris was related to a procedure Johnson had more than 10 years ago when he had the back of his kneecap shaved a bit. Lee added that this could be an example of more "wear and tear" on the knee.

Johnson was removed from the DL on April 27 in time to start Game 2 of the doubleheader that day.

Johnson showed little ill effects from the knee, striking out 12 in six innings as he picked up the win.

The knee, though, began to swell again Tuesday after Johnson played catch and the team decided to have the second MRI taken.

"The difference is that we tried our conservative approach with this and he's actually responded very well," Lee said. "But unfortunately, he's not where we want him to be and we just don't want to threaten further injury or further demise to the knee."

If Johnson were to try top continue to pitch, the club was afraid he would alter his mechanics, and as a result, suffer an injury to his arm or back.

"Randy and I basically made the decision that surgery was in the best interests to get him back the soonest without having any concerns," Lee said. "We've been kind of chasing this for a couple of weeks. We felt surgery wasn't initially the best option for us, but now we feel it's probably the best thing to get him back and functional."

The Diamondbacks recalled Brandon Webb from Triple-A Tucson to take Johnson's place on the roster. The right-hander, who struck out 10 Mets in his first big-league start Sunday, will start in place of Johnson on Friday against the Braves.

"This is a test of character for our ballclub," outfielder Luis Gonzalez said.

Johnson was not at the ballpark and a club spokesman said he would not comment.

"This is one of the great competitors in our game and I'm sure he's not used to being on the sidelines watching," Brenly said. "But by the same token, it wouldn't do him any good, wouldn't do us any good to continue to try and pitch through this.

"We feel this is the best course of action, to get it taken care of now and hopefully have Randy back as soon as possible."

The news comes just days before Curt Schilling is expected to make his return to the rotation. Schilling, who underwent an appendectomy a week and a half ago, said his throwing session Wednesday went well and Brenly said he was on track to start Saturday.

Schilling was able to field some slow rollers Wednesday, showing his mobility is OK.

"I'll be ready Saturday," Schilling said.

It was a busy day for Lee as he also looked at an MRI of pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim's right ankle. Kim hurt the ankle when he was struck by Preston Wilson's broken bat earlier in the month. After struggling in his outing Tuesday night, Kim said his ankle was bothering him and he wasn't sure he could make his next start.

Lee said the MRI showed no structural damage, just a bad bruise.

"I have no doubts that it's sore," Brenly said. "I have no doubts that it bothers him when he's out there on the mound. I think it's just a matter now of getting in the training room and strengthening the muscles around that ankle. It's just not going to go away on its own. He needs to get in that training room and take care of it and let the trainers do their thing. I'm not willing to rule him out of his next start at this point."



He'll be back and back to his old self again anyway probably.

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