Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Elbow forces Rijo to make painful decision

By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Reds pitcher Jose Rijo faces a tough decision.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The long and productive career of veteran Reds pitcher Jose Rijo might finally be nearing an end.

At the request of general manager Jim Bowden, the 38-year-old pitcher made an appearance Tuesday at Tropicana Field to give an update on his right elbow.

Rijo, who underwent his sixth elbow surgery in March, is experiencing pain in a different area of the elbow and has been told by Dr. James Andrews that another surgery is not an option.

"We'll just wait and see," said Rijo, who experienced pain after throwing on flat ground at the Reds spring training complex in Sarasota. "I've been preparing for (retirement) for six or seven years. It's not really bad news for me anymore.

"I have to get my mind into this coming back thing or try to look for something else to do."

Since undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur during spring training, Rijo has split time between his native Dominican Republic, Miami and Sarasota.

He said he was committed to a comeback until Tuesday's setback, but would wait to talk to Andrews before making a decision regarding his future.

Tuesday's throwing session was Rijo's first in 11 days since receiving a cortisone shot.

"(Andrews) said I can't handle any more (surgeries)," Rijo said. "I say physically or mentally either."

Rijo, the MVP of the 1990 World Series, went 87-53 with a 2.65 ERA in his first seven seasons with the Reds. He began experiencing elbow problems in 1995 and missed all of the 1996-2000 seasons before returning for 13 games in 2001.

Last year, he went 5-4 with a 5.14 ERA.

"He's had tough luck, but he's helped the organization in so many different ways," Bowden said. "He brings so much to the table for this organization that even when he's not pitching he's helping us.

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