Shoulder may end Gagne's Crew run
Rehab recommended, surgery possible for Brewers non-roster invitee
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Eric Gagne's bid for a Brewers roster spot appears over before it even began.
Gagne, who inked a Minor League deal with hopes of repaying part of Milwaukee's $10 million investment in him last season, will visit noted orthopedist Lewis Yocum in Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday for a second opinion on his injured right shoulder. Regardless of whether Gagne opts for surgery, it appears extremely unlikely that he'll win a spot on the Brewers' 2009 roster."I would say impossible," assistant general manager Gord Ash said. Yocum, an Angels team doctor, will take a second look at the MRI of Gagne's shoulder that was read this week by Brewers head physician Dr. William Raasch. Ash said Raasch identified damage to multiple parts of the shoulder, including the labrum and rotator cuff. Raasch was leaning toward a cortisone shot and a course of rehabilitation, but Ash got the sense that Gagne may choose a surgical fix. Surgery would require a rehab of at least four months before he begins a throwing program. Even if he does opt for rehab, Gagne probably will not do it with the Brewers. His Minor League contract -- which was to pay $1.5 million if he made the Major League roster -- includes a March 26 out date, on which Gagne could elect free agency if he was not on the roster. Even if he does not exercise that right, it's unlikely that the Brewers would keep him in the system because of his relatively pricy Minor League salary. "You have to understand that our interest in signing Eric was to pitch at the Major League level," Ash said. "We don't have any interest in having him as a Minor League player." Gagne was not available to reporters while the clubhouse was open on Friday morning. He was a disappointment as the Brewers' closer at the start of last season, but was one of their best late-inning relievers in the second half. In his final 28 games, including two appearances in the postseason, Gagne's ERA was 3.24 and he had 18 holds. Opponents hit .189 during that span, and over his 11 scoreless appearances to end the season, they hit .091 (3-for-33). That finish prompted the Brewers to re-sign Gagne, 33, just after the start of Spring Training in February to a Minor League contract that would have paid $1.5 million had he made the team. He underwent a physical before that deal was official, but it did not include an MRI. Ash and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin met with Gagne on Friday morning to talk about his options. "He has a strong desire to continue to play," Ash said. "He thinks he can pitch for another three to four years, and if he has to take the time now to get right, that's what he wants to do. I believe he is very sincere when he says he would like to pitch with us. It's just not going to happen right now." Ash also said third baseman Bill Hall continues to make progress in his recovery from a left calf injury, despite developing some new soreness in the area in recent days. Hall suffered a slight tear to the muscle on Feb. 12 and was making a rapid recovery until this week. He has backed off a bit, and Ash was not able to offer an estimate of when Hall might be able to play in a game. "The trainers feel [the new soreness] is compensatory, because he is probably relying on other muscles to make up for the torn one," Ash said. "So I think while he is making great progress, he is not making extremely great progress. ... Both Dr. Raasch and Roger [Caplinger, the team's head athletic trainer] felt that this was not a setback because he was healing so quickly."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.