New Details Given On Schmidt's Surgery

Posted: March 05, 1989

CLEARWATER, Fla. — It was another interesting day at the hottest corner in town - third base at the Phillies' spring training camp.

Phils physician Phillip Marone said yesterday that the arthroscopic surgery on Mike Schmidt's shoulder in September merely cleaned out loose matter and did not repair the small tear in the rotator cuff. Marone added, however, that the surgical procedure could well allow Schmidt to play without problem.

"His surgery was more maintenance than corrective, which means the small tear is there," Marone said of the operation performed in Birmingham, Ala., by James Andrews. Marone indicated that the Phils had been aware since the time of Schmidt's surgery that it would not repair the small shoulder tear.

Neither Schmidt nor Andrews would comment on the matter. At the time of the operation, neither actually said the tear was repaired, only that the surgery should allow the third baseman the opportunity to play again.

"It was able to take care of an impingement he had in the shoulder, and that may well be enough," said Marone, who has seen Schmidt's medical records. "There's no way of predicting these things. The rotator cuff could tear even more with one motion. Or it can be fine, given how Mike has worked to build the muscles around the tear. I hope he makes it, but it's just one of those things you simply can't predict."

Meanwhile, Von Hayes has moved back into the picture at third base. Manager Nick Leyva indicated that Chris James would be his third baseman if Schmidt were unable to play at all but that Hayes would be used as a backup to a healthy Schmidt.

Hayes - who has been getting frequent playing time at third, performing there yesterday in a morning B game - played the position when he broke into the majors with Cleveland. He appears to have better instincts and footwork at the position than James has, and Phils officials think his range will be better than James' once he gets more time there.

"I don't mind playing there at all," Hayes said. "The throw isn't a problem, it's just a flip for me.

"If I were going to play there, I'd need some time to get myself more comfortable. But a couple of weeks would probably be enough if that's where they wanted me to play."

James admits to being unsettled by the uncertainty and said he had a private meeting Friday with Leyva.

"Not knowing where I'm going to be playing is not out of my mind, and I just wanted to talk things over with Nick," said James, who doubled in both the Phils' runs yesterday in their 9-2 exhibition loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I told him I just wanted to play and I don't care where it is. But I don't think I'm a good platoon player, because I've hit better against righthanders than lefthanders.

"Nick just told me we have to wait and see about Mike and just be patient. The thing Nick told me is that if Mike is healthy, he'd probably use Von to rotate between the outfield and spelling Mike at third and just keep me in the outfield. But if Mike can't make it, then he would have me play third every day."

Leyva had roughly the same explanation. "I'm just worried about Chris' shoulder being able to handle going between the outfield and third a lot," Leyva said.

"So if he's not going to play third every day, I'd rather he didn't play there at all. We're working both Von and Chris at third because we need to protect ourselves. And yeah, we like how Von looks down there."

Schmidt's shoulder isn't the only one that has the Phillies worried. James was bothered by a sore shoulder late last season, and it prevented him from getting much mileage out of a planned third-base tutorial in the fall Instructional League.

"The shoulder had a slight separation," James said, "and it gave me a lot of discomfort. But I haven't had any problem down here and I've tried to forget about it."

Leyva had an upbeat assessment of Schmidt's status. "All this talk about Chris and Von playing third is only if Mike can't play there," Leyva said.

"I think he's been improving every day lately. But the thing is, he's 39 years old, and if he's playing, he's still going to have to take days off here and there. And that would be a role I'd lean toward having Von fill."

Schmidt was also upbeat yesterday. He was a designated hitter in the morning B game (a 6-1 Phils loss to Toronto), singling for one of three Phils hits in the seven-inning game and hitting the ball hard on another at-bat.

He joked about playing a B game. "I think it's about 12 years since I've been in one of these," he said. "I'm not sure of the routine. The trouble is, I'm out here so early I can't find anyone to play catch with me."

Schmidt first sought out Tommy Herr's 8-year-old son, Aaron, for a game of catch. Then Schmidt asked Garry Maddox to help him warm up his shoulder. Finally, coach Larry Bowa rescued him. "I told Mike to play the B game and then I'd hit him grounders for as long as he wanted on the practice field," Bowa said. "Nick bet me he'd turn me down, but Mike jumped at it."

Schmidt took grounders from Bowa for nearly a half-hour between games and said later, "Another day of work, that's all."


In their two regular exhibitions, the Phils have been outscored by 16-4 and have given up 31 hits.

"Yeah, 31 hits in two days is kind of scary, isn't it," Leyva said. "But a couple of guys we're relying on pitched all right. Bedrock had two easy innings and Greg Harris pitched fine in the B game."

Mike Maddux started the regular exhibition and allowed six hits and two runs while fanning five in his three innings. Bob Sebra allowed two runs in his two innings, while rookie Scott Service was roughed up for seven hits and five runs in his two innings.

"We're running a lot of them out there now because we have to make some decisions, and usually the players themselves help you make them," Leyva said.

"The thing is that this is the first time out for them, so you can't make any real judgments. But on the other hand, it would be nice to see one of them come out here and take charge. Maddux pitched far too much from behind, and you just can't do that and be successful."

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