2008 NEWS

2008 News > 8/21/08


By David O'Brien, AJC.com

New York — While Braves veteran Tom Glavine was under anesthesia for elbow surgery Thursday, Dr. James Andrews also did a relatively minor shoulder surgery on his pitching arm.

That was the only surprising news out of Birmingham, where the 42-year-old left-hander went in for elbow surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. Well, surprising for everyone except Glavine, Andrews and Braves officials.

Turns out, Glavine and the Braves knew before Thursday that he would also have the arthroscopic procedure to “clean up” the labrum in his shoulder, although neither he nor the team announced it until after the operations were completed.

Glavine had discomfort in his shoulder during the season and asked Andrews to care of that while Glavine was on the operating table.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said the surgeries went “very well” and that Glavine should be ready for spring training, provided he wants to continue pitching and the Braves want him back. The 305-game winner said he would retire rather than pitch for another team at this point of his career, and Glavine also said he doesn’t expect to make a decision about his future until five weeks or so when he’s back at the ballpark doing rehab work on his arm.

The Braves have declined to address whether they have discussed or made any decisions involving Glavine’s possible future with the club.

In a statement from the team, general manager Frank Wren said: “We were pleased by the report that there was not a significant injury to the elbow or shoulder that would prevent Tom from pitching in the future.”

Glavine, whose 305-203 record makes him the fourth-winningest left-hander in major league history, went 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA in 13 starts this season. He missed months with a partially torn flexor tendon, then came off the disabled list and gave up seven runs in four innings of an Aug. 14 loss.

Glavine returned to the DL the next day and went to see Andrews, the noted orthopedist. Glavine said if the MRI he got Wednesday at Andrews’ clinic had shown a torn ulnar collateral ligament that would require “Tommy John” surgery and a 12-to-14 month rehab, he would have retired instead.

But the MRI showed only flexor-tendon damage, and he said he would consider resuming his career after he gets into the rehab period and after he talks things over with Wren.

Glavine spent his first 16 seasons with the Braves, then five seasons with the New York Mets before returning to Atlanta on a one-year, $8 million free-agent contract this season.

In 62 starts from the beginning of the 2006 season until Sept. 8, 2007, he was 28-13 with a 3.88 ERA and .268 opponents’ average in 380 1/3 innings, averaging more than six innings per start.

In 17 starts since, he’s 2-6 with a 6.42 ERA and .312 opponents’ average in 81 1/3 innings, averaging under five innings per start.