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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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September 11, 2008 4:38 PM

Beltre's dilemma

Posted by Larry Stone

Adrian Beltre is back with the team today, agonizing over a fascinating dilemma. The doctors tell him that he needs surgery on his left thumb to repair a torn ligament. He's been playing with it all year -- actually, longer. He originally hurt it back to May 31 of last year, when he dived for a ball at Safeco Field in a game against Texas. But the tear wasn't diagnosed until December, Beltre said -- too late to have the surgery and be ready for Opening Day of this season.

So he's played with it all year, with the help of at least one cortisone shot. Now the doctors are telling him to have the surgery now, so he'll be ready for the start of spring training (when he might be playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic).

It makes sense, because recovery time is four to five months. But Beltre wants to finish out the year, or at least play a little longer. In fact, he's in the lineup tonight. He wasn't originally, but he talked his way into it. He says he still hasn't made up his mind when to have the surgery.

"I'm debating,'' he said. "What I really want to do is finish the year, then do it. Everyone's against me, and wanting me me to do it before then. I don't really want to. I truly want to finish the season, but I don't think it's going to happen. I'm debating when to do it. I want to have enough timne to be 100 percent sure I'm going to be 100 percent by spring training. If I finish the season, it would be a really tight schedule to have surgery and be ready. It would take me to January and February. That's cutting it too close. I'm not really sure what to do yet.''

The pain, he said, is not really that bad, except when the weather is cold or it's aggravated by an awkward swing. When he has the thumb done, Beltre's going to have somethihng done to his left shoulder, too, he said.

So what's to gain by playing the rest of the season?

"That's a good question. Probably nothing, but I just feel bad walking away from the guys. A lot of guys come to play every day -- Raul, Lopey, Ichi. I feel guilty walking away to have surgery. It would be OK to have it late, maybe with a week left in the season, rather than walking away with almost a month to play.''

That's an admirable sentiment. But I think it makes the most sense -- and helps the team the most in the long run -- to do it now, and make absolutely sure he's ready for next year.

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