Arthritic knee means no '04, unlikely '05

Updated: January 8, 2004, 6:09 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Injured New York Mets first baseman Mo Vaughn will not play baseball in 2004 and is doubtful for 2005 because of an arthritic left knee.

Mo Vaughn

Vaughn went on the disabled list May 3 with joint and cartilage damage in his knee and didn't play again last season.

He hoped to come to spring training but after working all winter, but the 36-year-old Vaughn said in a conference call Thursday that he had been advised not to try a comeback.

From what the doctors say, it would be tough this season and it's not very bright for years to come. It doesn't look good at all. It's a bad situation.
Mo Vaughn

"From what the doctors say, it would be tough this season and it's not very bright for years to come," Vaughn said. "It doesn't look good at all. It's a bad situation."

Vaughn said he works out two hours a day, four days a week. "I don't want to put so much stress that I need a knee replacement at 40 and the another one at 60," he said.

"I worked hard this offseason trying to put strength in the knee. An athlete knows his body. You know pain. You feel it in your bones. You've got to get up, get on with life and keep moving."

Vaughn is owed $15 million for 2004, the final year of an $80 million contract he signed in 1999. The Mets have a $14 million option with a $2 million buyout in 2005. Insurance on the deal will reimburse the team for 75 percent of the contract once he misses 90 days.

Mets general manager Jim Duquette refused to discuss that issue.

"We can't talk about the insurance," he said. "Mo is on the disabled list as of Opening Day."

Agent Jeff Moorad would not call Thursday's announcement a retirement, even though prospects for Vaughn playing again seem slim at best.

"It may seem a fine line," Moorad said. "We don't hold great hope the Mo will be able to play again. We are stopping short of calling this a retirement at this point. Mo is still under contract with the New York Mets and looks forward to continuing his involvement with the team, perhaps in community activities."

Vaughn, the 1995 AL MVP with Boston, has 326 career homers, 1,064 RBI and a .293 batting average in 12 major league seasons. He missed the entire 2001 season with a ruptured tendon in his left arm and hit just .190 with three homers and 15 RBI in 27 games for the Mets last year -- his second with the team.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press