Schmidt faces long rehab after season-ending surgery
"We knew he hadn't been throwing well," general manager Ned Colletti said. "It's been a concern for a few starts. Obviously it's a disappointment. We'll just have to figure out how to make it better."
Schmidt, who signed a $47 million, three-year contract as a free agent during the offseason, went 1-4 with a 6.31 ERA in six starts.
"With all due respect, he hasn't thrown well," Colletti said. "It's not as if he was on his way to a Cy Young season and suddenly we lost him. We need to fill the innings and we need to fill them with quality innings."
Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said Schmidt had surgery to repair an inflamed bursa, a torn labrum and a frayed biceps tendon in his right shoulder. Both the labrum tear and the frayed tendon were unexpected.
Conte said the torn labrum is the most serious aspect of the surgery, performed in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening.
"The rehab has to go slower," Conte explained. "It has to attach back to the bone and that takes some time. The whole process is slowed down."
The bursa is a pad that decreases friction between a tendon and a bone, Conte said.
"You have a bunch of them in your shoulder," he explained. "There's one that sits on top of your shoulder. When it gets inflamed, it's hard to raise your arm all the way up."
Schmidt will begin exercises to build up strength and range of motion as soon as he is able.
"We hope that he'll be throwing in spring training," Conte said. "We're about an hour and half out of surgery. We're going to have to see how the rehab process goes and everything else. Based on other guys going through similar procedures, we think he'll be OK in spring training."
"We probably won't see him actually throwing a ball for three to four months, depending on how the rehab goes," Conte added.
Conte said there's no way to tell when Schmidt suffered the injury. Colletti insisted there was no sign of any damage when the Dodgers inspected Schmidt in the offseason before making their contract offer.
"If I had any inkling that this was what was going to be happening in the middle of June, I doubt if we would have gone forward with that," Colletti said.
Schmidt was placed on the disabled list in April because of bursitis in his shoulder after going 1-2 with a 7.36 ERA in his first three starts.
Following a 45-game absence, Schmidt returned June 5 and threw six shutout innings in San Diego, consistently reaching 89 mph and topping out at 91 mph.
But the 34-year-old didn't perform nearly as well in his last two starts, and his velocity was down. He allowed three runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, walking four and striking out two.
Schmidt acknowledged after Saturday's game that he was still not at full strength.
"I just haven't felt like myself," he said.
Conte said Schmidt's labrum tear could have contributed to his lack of velocity.
"When you take your arm back in the cocking position, if the labrum is not stable back there, it prevents you from getting all the way back," Conte said. "We think this is one of the main reasons. The bursa being inflamed and scarred down, too, was another reason. We think this explains why he was having problems and why he couldn't seem to get going."
This is the second time in his career that Schmidt has undergone season-ending shoulder surgery. He was sidelined for the final six weeks of the 2000 season after surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff and a frayed labrum.
Schmidt was placed on the disabled list Monday and utilityman Marlon Anderson was activated from the disabled list to take his place on the roster.
Right-hander Chad Billingsley (4-0) will start in Schmidt's place against Toronto on Thursday.
Even though Billingsley will be on a pitch count, Dodgers manager Grady Little saw no need to add another arm to his bullpen.
"We feel confident with the people we have," Little said. "We didn't use [Mark] Hendrickson out there today and we also have Rudy [Seanez]. He's good for a couple. They're all in good shape. Everyone will be available [Thursday] probably except [Brett] Tomko."
Colletti said he'll give Billingsley a chance to keep his spot in the rotation before exploring his trade options.
We'll see how the next few weeks go between now and the trade deadline," Colletti said. "We'll see if we need to add a starter or need to add a reliever because we've moved a reliever into the rotation."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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