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Saturday, September 27, 2008

He got it for free: A decision by Mariano Rivera on elective shoulder surgery

Mariano Rivera stepped out of the visitors' clubhouse in Boston's Fenway Park on Friday to get a soft serve ice cream cone. It cost $4.25, but he got it for free. At 38, after a long career, he is well known, and being the greatest closing pitcher in baseball history has its perks.

He is weighing the merits of shoulder surgery for inflammation caused by a calcification in his right shoulder. It causes him periodic irritation and pain, intensifying when he pitches frequently, but has not prevented him from having 38 saves in 39 chances this season, with 76 strikeouts and only six walks.

He had an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test, and saw two doctors this week, who have given him the options of cortisone injections to dull the inflammation, or surgery. The surgical procedure would be a minor one, requiring only a few weeks of rehabilitation.

He is weighing his dislike of needles against the low risks of surgery, and is leaning toward surgery.

Advice to athletes considering surgery: Keep in mind that the team physician and other employees of the team have the team’s best interests at heart, not necessarily yours.

Read another story on a baseball pitcher.

Thanks to Tyler Kepner for the source story in today's New York Times.

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