Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Guzman plans career-threatening surgery

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MESA, Ariz. - Cubs pitcher Angel Guzman says he plans to have surgery on his injured shoulder, even though he's been told few pitchers ever come back from that kind of surgery.

``It's going to be tough,'' said Guzman, 28, who was diagnosed over the weekend with a significant ligament tear near his armpit and instability in the shoulder. ``But it's better than not having it and not having a chance. Doing it, I have a small chance, but there is a chance. So I'm going to take the chance.''

Guzman says the decision isn't final. He plans to see famed orthopedist James Andrews - who already has done operations on Guzman's shoulder and elbow -- as soon as this week and then consult with his agents and his family.

``It's very sad, but what can I do?'' he said. ``I'm still breathing.''

He may also seek a third medical opinion before deciding, he said.

The Cubs' medical staff recommends four to six weeks of strengthening and rehab followed by a throwing program instead of surgery.

But Guzman said, ``I think there is no chance to get it fixed without the surgery. By doing rehab, it wouldn't do anything. I spent four months here working out [over the winter] and I felt as strong as ever. And still, pain. I think that's the only way to get it fixed.''

It's already been a nightmarish year for Guzman, who faces a possible career-ending injury less than two months after his brother and his best friend were shot to death back home in Caracas, Venezuela.

Manager Lou Piniella suggested Guzman might benefit from going home for a while before taking the next step.

``I would love to,'' he said. ``For the last two months I've been through some issues. Maybe going home would clear my mind and [make] me fresh and I can come back and fight for my goal, for what I want.''

Regardless of the treatment course he chooses, he plans to fight, he said.

``I love pitching. I've been pitching since I was 4 years old,'' he said. ``I'm still 28. I think 28's a good age to keep pushing it.''

Guzman, who agreed to an $825,000 contract in January in his first year of arbitration eligibility, supports his parents and siblings back home.

``I'm going to get all the people that are close to me involved in my decision, because I've got a family to support and I think it's a good idea to talk to them,'' he said. ``Maybe it's going to take a few days, or a few weeks.''

For now: ``Disappointed. Sadness,'' he said. ``I just have to go through it.''

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Wasn't he suppose to be the next Pedro Martinez?

Sucks to lose the oppurtunity to do what you love. Guzman never panned out as the dominating starter with a great heater. He was coming into his own with his new role on the team. Really tough loss more-so for him than the Cubs. I hope he is able to pitch again. Dr Andrews is the best so I have high hopes.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 7, 2010 10:52 AM.

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