By Kirby Arnold
As if 2010 couldn’t end without one more piece of tough news for the Mariners, they announced today that closer David Aardsma will undergo surgery Monday to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.
Good-bye trade value? So-long Aardsma for the beginning of the season?
The Mariners say Aardsma will begin throwing in a month and should be at full strength by opening day, although any team that might have been interested certainly will take a see-it-before-they-believe-it approach.
Eligible for arbitration after a 31-save season when he made $2.75 million, Aardsma was either the Mariners’ most attractive trade option this offseason if they sought to save some money or a quality closer if they chose to keep him.
For now, you can kiss the trade value good-bye along with hope that the Mariners could use the salary savings to acquire a hitter with what’s left unspoken in the 2011 payroll budget. Scouts I spoke with today believe no team will be interested in Aardsma until they’re absolutely convinced he’s 100 percent. Add that to the story lines to follow at spring training.
It’s been a unique offseason for Aardsma, who spent all of it rehabbing what he thought was an oblique injury suffered Sept. 19. He went home to Scottsdale, Ariz., gave up his golf membership and did what you’re supposed to do with oblique injuries – lots of ice and rest.
“When I felt that wasn’t improving the problem, I decided I needed to get it checked out by a doctor down here,” Aardsma said. “He said I should talk to the team and be checked out by a specialist.”
He notified the Mariners, who immediately had him examined Tuesday in Vail, Colo., by Dr. Marc Phillipon. That’s the same doctor who repaired torn labrums last winter in both hips of former Mariners catcher Rob Johnson. Johnson, who struggled in 2010 and was traded earlier this month to the San Diego Padres, said he probably came back too soon from the hip surgery.
The Mariners believe Aardsma’s situation is different because his injury isn’t as severe and, as a one-inning-a-game pitcher, his hip won’t endure nearly the stress that a catcher’s does.
“The worst scenario is a catcher,” Mariners head trainer Rick Griffin said. “You’ve got to squat and bend and block balls, go forward and side to side. David basically has one movement in his delivery and he does it repetitively.”
While several position players have had hip labrum surgery in recent years, it’s not so common with pitchers. One of the latest was Astros pitcher Brett Myers, who had surgery in early June, 2009, while he was a starter with the Phillies. Myers missed the next three months and returned to pitch eight games in relief in September and October that year. This year he went 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA with the Astros.
Aardsma said Phillipon didn’t believe his injury is severe.
“He said it’s going to be within four weeks when I’ll start my throwing program,” Aardsma said. “He didn’t feel it would be that major. I should be completely game ready the beginning of the season.”
Aardsma said he’d be silly to expect the trade rumors involving him to continue. Earlier this month, the Denver Post reported that the Rockies and Mariners were talking, although the Rockies pulled away because the Mariners were asking for too much – notably, an impact bat
“I’ve grown to really like that mlbtraderumors.com site,” Aardsma said. “I find out so much information about everybody – who we’re bringing in, who we’re looking at. So, it’s kind of hard to miss it. In a way, I’m flattered they believe other teams would want me to be their closer.
“I’m not worried about the rumors. I’m worried about getting ready. If it comes down to where the team still trades me if they choose to, I’ll be ready regardless. But I love Seattle, I love the Mariners and I’m happy to be with them.”