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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 26, 2008 4:50 PM

Bedard: no labrum tear, could start season on-time

Posted by Geoff Baker

It looks like Erik Bedard is not as bad off as had initially been feared. He underwent surgery today to remove a cyst in his shoulder area and also to have "a minor labral debridement.''

But a medical update issued by the team this afternoon revealed no tears of either the labrum or rotator cuff.

In other words, under normal circumstances, he could recover from the surgery in six months. And actually, to correct what I'd written earlier, a team spokesman, Tim Hevly, just told me that the initial six-month estimate is for a full recovery in which he'd be ready to pitch in a game.

That means Bedard would be ready to start the season on-time. In fact, he could be ready even sooner than the six-month projection, since today's operation essentially found nothing structurally wrong with his arm. This is very different from what was being said last week. Not sure where the confusion about a labrum tear came from. A debridement is usually done when there's some fraying of the labrum -- in other words, to trim any loose, damaged tissue. But that's more maintenance than anything, something done as a sort of "might as well, since we're already in there'' approach.

In any event, the six months recovery is normally the bare minimum for thsi type of surgery -- the price of essentially cutting into the arm in the first place. Perhaps it was the cyst causing all of Bedard's pain. We'll find out when he throws again.

Team trainer Rick Griffin said he could not speak about anything related to the surgery since Bedard has not signed a release allowing him to comment on the medical situation to the media. He would have been asked to sign one back when the injury occured. Adrian Beltre signed off on his, which is why Griffin and others have commented about his injury.

Last week, Bedard himself (not reporters) stated that a previous MRI had shown he had a labrum tear. The team had actually stated after taking an MRI in July that Bedard had no structural damage. So, there's some confusion here. But I'm not a doctor. Sometimes, a small line can show up on a scan that may cause something to look like a tear. Perhaps he had another MRI taken on his own. I have no idea.

Mariners manager Jim Riggleman, who greeted the news with cautious optimism, shrugged when asked about the apparent confusion.

"I guess it's not an exact science,'' he said. "It's like making those bullpen changes. It's not an exact science.''

Funny guy, that Riggleman.

But hey, given that Bedard is now expected to be ready for the 2009 season, rather than missing any of it (remember, that's just a very preliminary outlook) it sure does change a few things. It makes it more likely the Mariners would tender him a contract for next season and perhaps, if the need arises, gain some prospects back for him in a mid-season trade. We'll know more, obviously, next spring.



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