Guerrero May Return This Week; Landreaux Is Out

Times Staff Writer

Dodger physician Dr. Frank Jobe is recommending that Pedro Guerrero, who has not played since injuring his knee in spring training, be reactivated within a week.

But the final decision will rest with Guerrero, and he remains undecided.

Asked when he plans to return, Guerrero said after Monday's game: "What did the doctor tell you? I'll probably come off (the disabled) list this week sometime.

"It (the decision to return) has to be mine because nobody knows how I feel but me, and I'm the only one who knows what I can do."

Said Jobe: "We tested him today, and he's not quite ready to come off the DL (disabled list) yet, but I think he'll be off sometime within the next week. But he has to make the decision himself. All I can do is give an objective medical opinion.

"The only recommendation I'm going to make when he comes back is that he should be used as a pinch-hitter for a while, until he gets used to live pitching.

"We're going to measure him again Wednesday, and if he feels

good he'll be reactivated as a pinch-hitter.

"His girth measurements (of his legs) are equal. The strength isn't quite equal--I'd estimate there's a difference of 10%. But I suspect if we tested him again before all the exercise (20-30 minutes of batting practice and running) they'd be close to being equal."

Guerrero's return is perhaps even more vital to the Dodgers now because outfielder Ken Landreaux is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery today at Centinela Hospital Medical Center to repair torn cartilage and sprained ligaments in his left knee suffered last weekend in Chicago. He is expected to be sidelined for three weeks, at least, depending on the severity of the injury.

The Dodgers haven't announced a replacement for Landreaux yet, but don't be surprised if it's Guerrero.

With Landreaux now on the 21-day disabled list, the Dodgers' entire starting outfield is out of action. Mike Marshall was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 20 with stiffness in his lower back. Marshall hasn't even begun taking batting practice.

"I can make the difference in a few games, but I can't say that I'm going to make the difference all by myself and carry the team," Guerrero said. "I'm not going to hit a homer every day. Not even Superman can do that.

"I'm going to surprise a lot of people. . . . There were a lot of guys (in the media) who wrote that I was going to come back Aug. 1, but I never said that.

"It's not hurting right now, but I'm not 100%. There's no pain at all, but sometimes I feel kind of different. When I run, sometimes it gets stiff.

"I can swing the bat, but I don't like to guess when I'm going to be ready. I won't go out unless I'm 100%. I'm going to make the decision.

"I can't set a date. I wish I could come out right now. I believe I've still got a lot of work to do.

"It's been kind of tough (being sidelined), especially when you see your team struggling. It's been a tough year already. It's been tough for me. It's hard to think about it. If I thought about it, I'd probably go crazy."

Guerrero suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee while sliding in an exhibition game on April 3, the day the Dodgers broke spring training in Florida to return home. Surgery was performed by Dr. Jobe on April 4, and it was originally thought that Guerrero would be sidelined three to six months.

Asked if he was surprised that Guerrero has recovered so quickly, Jobe said: "I told the team he could play again within four months, so we're right on schedule, right on the button.

"I think he's worked extremely hard. He's been an ideal patient. I would give Pat Screnar (the Dodger physical therapist) and the patient himself credit for this."

Guerrero looked impressive in batting practice before the game, hitting several shots into the left-field bleachers. He didn't appear to have a limp as he ran the bases and shagged fly balls in the outfield. Guerrero even managed to laugh as he ran the bases.

"He can outrun more than half the guys on the club right now," Dodger infielder Bill Russell said.

Reporters and players were gathered around the batting cage as Guerrero was hitting.

"Do you know something that I don't know?" Guerrero said to Dodger publicist Steve Brener. "Got any news for me?"

Asked when Guerrero will return, Lasorda said: "I have no idea. If I knew, I'd make a ton of money at the Mayo Clinic. All we can do is wait. We should know a little more tonight.

"His hitting is awesome in batting practice, and he is running fairly good. He's a premier ballplayer, and his presence will mean a lot to the ballclub. Last year, he hit 33 home runs. He's the kind of player that can inspire a ballclub and carry a ballclub."

Screnar said Guerrero still has trouble stopping quickly. "He's not having any trouble running, just stopping. He's getting more sure of himself. But he has to regain his confidence."

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