Saturday, March 20, 2004

Reds pitcher lost for season

Surgery ends starting bid for Rule 5 pickup

By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SARASOTA, Fla. - A $50,000 chance will end up costing the Reds considerably more this season.

Pitcher D.J. Mattox, who was acquired from the Mets in January's Rule 5 Draft, underwent "Tommy John" surgery on his right elbow Friday in Cincinnati.

Considered a candidate to make the Reds starting rotation this spring, the 23-year-old will instead miss the upcoming season.

"He's going to go on the disabled list for the balance of the year," Reds general manager Dan O'Brien said. "That is the only option administratively that's available to us."

The Reds must therefore pay Mattox the major league minimum salary of $300,000.

O'Brien said he spoke with Mets general manager Jim Duquette after learning the extent of Mattox's injury Friday morning.

"It was a courtesy call to advise him about what had gone on," O'Brien said. "He was totally surprised. There was no indication of any (medical) issues when (Mattox) was a member of the Mets organization."

An 11th-round pick in the 2001 amateur draft, Mattox has a 26-14 record with a 3.13 ERA in 63 minor league games.

He went 8-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 21 games with Double-A Binghamton last season.

"For D.J.'s sake, I'm sorry it went this way," O'Brien said. "I'm sure he's young enough that he'll bounce back, resume his career."

The Rule 5 Draft has not helped the Reds little in recent years.

Cincinnati drafted pitchers Luke Prokopec, Blake Williams and Jerome Gamble.

Williams was returned to St. Louis and Gamble was sent back to the Red Sox.

Prokopec, who was coming off surgery in September 2002 to repair a torn labrum, spent the 2003 season on the disabled list. He had arthroscopic surgery to repair a damaged anterior, posterior and superior labrum in July and isn't expected to start pitching again until this summer.

In 1997, the Reds drafted Keith Glauber. The right-hander missed all but three games in 1998 because of a torn rotator cuff. He returned in 2000 and appeared in four games.



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