By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SARASOTA, Fla. - Jose Rijo talked as though he were going to have a cavity filled, not undergo a sixth surgery on his right elbow.
"It's a small procedure - no big deal," he said.
On Tuesday, Rijo flew to Birmingham, Ala., where Dr. James Andrews was scheduled to perform an arthroscopic procedure to remove a bone spur.
Rijo said he'll be out 10 days to three weeks. The Reds announced he'll be out four weeks.
"I don't think this particular procedure should be too much of an issue," Reds general manager Jim Bowden said.
However minor the setback, Rijo is out of the race for the No. 5 starter spot for now.
Jimmy Anderson, Seth Etherton and Chris Reitsma remain in the hunt. Pete Harnisch could enter it if he continues to progress in rehabilitating from elbow surgery.
Rijo said he discovered the problem two weeks ago. An X-ray confirmed the presence of a spur, near the surface.
Rijo has pitched three times this spring and has gotten progressively worse.
He pitched two hitless innings his first time out. The second time, he allowed five hits and three runs over three innings. He opted for the surgery after needing 40 pitches to get through two-thirds of an inning Tuesday in a Minor League Accelerated Program game.
"I've got no choice," Rijo said. "I can't throw strikes. I don't have any command."
Rijo did have another choice: retire. He's 37 years old and financially secure and has gone through several comebacks and rehabs.
But Rijo said he didn't consider retirement. "No, because it's no big deal," he said. "If it was a big procedure, I would."
Bowden agreed with Rijo's decision. "It's a matter of getting the bone spur out and bringing him back," Bowden said. "He's come such a long way. Fortunately, from what I understand, parts of the elbow from previous surgeries have not been affected. They'll remove it and take the restriction away, and he should be able to come back where he left off."
Before the setback, Rijo was getting great reviews.
"The way he was throwing, people were looking for another miracle," manager Bob Boone said. "And he's the miracle man. It's a little setback. It's sad, as well as he was throwing."
That's why Rijo opted for the surgery.
"Why not?" he said. "I've had the best slider and the best fastball I've had in a long time. I know I can be better than the pitcher that I was the last two years. I know I can be the old Rijo."
It has been a long time since he has been that Rijo. He was one of the best pitchers in the game when his elbow problems began. He was 87-53 with a 2.65 ERA in his first seven years as a Red and led the league in starts in 1993 and '94.
The elbow problems began in 1995. He had his first surgery in 1996 and missed the '96, '97, '98, '99 and 2000 seasons.
He returned in 2001, chalking up a 2.12 ERA in 13 appearances.
Last year he made the club with a stellar spring, even working his way into the rotation. He was 4-1 with a 3.89 ERA on May 18.
But he ended up on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. Overall, he was 5-4 with a 5.14 ERA.
Ballpark almost ready; come see
Rijo shrugs off sixth surgery
Reds Notebook: Howington rediscovers throwing form
Reds 6, Devil Rays 5
Tuesday's Exhibition Games
Spring Training Standings
Baseball considered folding Angels
Baseball Notebook: Mesa vows to hit Vizquel
QB Guidugli arrested again
Williams' shooting crucial in C-USA tourney
Scores and game wrap-ups
Marquette looking for more Louisville moments
Conference-USA Tournament Schedule
GW hopes Muskies run out of clock this time
West collects first postseason honor
Tubby wins two coaching awards
Georgia's plight saddens Smith, UK
MORE COLLEGE BASKETBALL
DAUGHERTY: Players share blame in college scandals
UConn women's run ends at 70
NKU's Shields voted GLVC's top coach
IUPUI makes 'The Dance'
Wis.-Milwaukee takes out Butler
Western Kentucky wins Sun Belt
IU seniors tired of criticism
Basketball rules at Texas for now
Bengals could use Norwood's Edwards
Bengals' preseason games set
NFL Notebook: Super Bowl MVP might leave Bucs
Hewitt survives scare at Indian Wells
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Prep Basketball Schedule
St. Henry, Holmes reach Ninth Region semis
Grant County, Brossart move on
Girls trio makes All-Ohio first team
Whiteoak makes regional final
Sports on TV-Radio
Return to Reds front page...