Rakers leans toward season-ending surgery


Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- Orioles reliever Aaron Rakers said he'll get a second opinion on his injured shoulder but is leaning toward having surgery and missing the 2006 season.

Rakers will attempt to visit Dr. Craig Morgan, an orthopedic surgeon in Wilmington, Del. A magnetic resonance imaging test revealed a tear in his labrum.

If Rakers decides to skip the surgery, he'll go on a rehabilitation program and risk worsening the tear or damaging his rotator cuff.

"Basically, I'm just going to wait to get a second opinion, just to make sure, and then from there decide whether to try to throw through it or get surgery," he said. "Right now it's just frayed a little bit where they go in and put a stitch in and that's it.

"I guess I'm leaning toward surgery because I wouldn't want to injure myself further. Some people have pitched with slap tears, but it all depends on what spots."

With Jorge Julio no longer in the bullpen, Rakers had a chance to make the club as a right-handed reliever who could have taken the middle innings. His stiffest competition figured to come from Jim Brower, Ricky Bottalico, Sendy Rleal and Winston Abreu.

"He was definitely in the mix," manager Sam Perlozzo said.

Rakers had two stints with the Orioles last season and gained his first major league win Sept. 27.

"It's real devastating. That's the only way to put it," he said. "You work all winter to get a chance to make the team, and then an injury sneaks up on you."

Rakers heard the footsteps. He pitched with some discomfort in the shoulder at Triple-A Ottawa during the second half of last season but figured it was tendinitis. "Now, after I took time off and it didn't go away, they knew there was a problem," he said.

Rakers didn't have an MRI last year, mainly because he never lost velocity on his pitches or needed to rest his shoulder.

"I had soreness," he said, "but when I got on the mound last year, I didn't feel it."

Too much, too soon?

Could some of the sore shoulders and elbows in camp be related to pitching coach Leo Mazzone's philosophy of having his guys throw on consecutive days? Perlozzo doesn't think so.

"He regulates the tempo on the side," Perlozzo said. "We're talking five minutes on the side and five minutes of batting practice. That's certainly not too much to ask of anybody."

Matos' orders

Perlozzo had to clear up some confusion with center fielder Luis Matos, who told reporters Tuesday that the Orioles wanted him to hit for more power. Not true, Perlozzo said.

"I never said that to Louie," Perlozzo said. "I told him, 'You need to go out and play really good defense and run the bases well, steal some bags and keep your average up.'"

Perlozzo also instructed Matos to ignore the trade rumors that heated up once the team acquired Corey Patterson.

Oriole bird

The club's policy on facial hair has claimed another victim: Kevin Millar.

Millar removed the thick stubble from his face, a process that didn't cause quite the stir as former teammate and current New York Yankee Johnny Damon losing his beard and long hair. But it was a change nonetheless.

Millar had no illusions about how his appearance would improve once he found his razor.

"I look like a bird," he said.

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