Jeff Hamilton has cause for worry about his sore right shoulder. An examination Friday revealed that the shoulder has a small tear in its rotator cuff, a condition that will keep the third baseman out of the lineup indefinitely.
Dr. Frank Jobe, Dodger medical director, will reexamine Hamilton today to determine whether he can return with a brief rest, or if he must go on the disabled list. Because the injury is less serious on a position player than a pitcher, Dodger officials are confident more drastic measures are not required.
"Dr. Jobe told me that even though it is a partial tear, he didn't think he would have to undergo surgery," said Fred Claire, Dodger vice president.
If Hamilton is disabled, the Dodgers could either recall Dave Hansen to play third base or leave the platoon of Mike Sharperson and Lenny Harris at third and recall middle infielder Jose Vizcaino. Hansen has two days of major league service. Vizcaino has 22 days.
"I hope I don't have to miss much time . . . but I don't know if I can play the game and just lob the ball over the there," said Hamilton, who underwent a Magnetic Resonancy Imaging test Friday morning. "My arm is the one thing that helps me stand out above other people. My arm is to me what Kirk Gibson's legs are to him. I've got to have it."
Hamilton may be the Dodgers' first casualty of a short spring. He said he first felt the shoulder pain late this winter and continued to feel it early in spring training. But he was not worried until he felt sharp pain during an extra batting practice session that was taken in his rush to get ready for the season.
"Usually you can work through that pain, but all of a sudden, I could barely hold the shoulder up," he said. "I knew then it was bad."
The Dodgers realized just how bad when he had just three hits in his first 24 at-bats this season.