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DODGERS : Morgan’s Slip Could Prove to Be Costly

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mike Morgan suffered a “very bad” hip injury three weeks ago and must undergo careful rehabilitation if he hopes to be ready for opening day, his physical therapist said Thursday.

Keith Kleven, speaking from Las Vegas, offered this first diagnosis of the severity of Morgan’s injury, suffered Feb. 10 when the Dodger pitcher slipped while carrying a television set up a flight of stairs for his mother.

The Dodgers have not been able to examine Morgan, who will report to camp today, one week late because of the injury. They may not like everything they see.

“Mike is healed--he has worked himself back into great shape (and) is actually ahead of where he usually is when he reports to camp,” said Kleven, who has worked with Morgan since high school. “But it was a very bad injury. And the Dodgers will have to be careful. He cannot be rushed.

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“When it first happened, he had so many symptoms, we didn’t know where to begin to look.”

Kleven said Morgan severely stretched his hip, perhaps even suffering a partial dislocation. He also hurt his lower back and stretched muscles in his groin area.

For the last three weeks, Morgan has spent six hours a day in physical therapy and threw from a mound for 10 minutes in each of the last three days before flying to Vero Beach Thursday.

Because Morgan suffered from tightness after those sessions, Kleven warned that he should be monitored during his future work.

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“But if everything keeps going on schedule, I think he can be ready (by) opening day,” Kleven said.

The Dodgers, who had a tentative spot for Morgan in the bullpen, hope he is ready. They are still miffed that he did not report to camp on time to be treated by what is considered one of the best groups of team physicians and therapists in sports, headed by Dr. Frank Jobe.

Because the mandatory reporting date is March 6, they could do nothing about his absence.

“I thought Mike would be better off here, but we will not force an issue that cannot be forced,” Dodger Vice President Fred Claire said. “The heaviest price here is being paid by Mike, and he knows it. Other pitchers have already thrown batting practice as many as three times. Who knows what Mike can do when he gets here?

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“My main hope is that he will come in and get in the flow of things right away. That way, he is only a week behind. But if he can’t, then he could be two weeks behind right away, and that would be significant.”

Kleven said it was Morgan’s worry about his injuries that led him to remain in Las Vegas.

“I don’t want the Dodgers to think I’m some sort of bad guy in all this,” said Kleven, who has not spoken with the Dodgers. “It’s just that Mike was really scared by it all. He wanted to stay with someone he’s known all his life.”

According to Kleven, the injury happened when Morgan refused to drop a brand-new television when he slipped while hauling it up a flight of stairs.

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“That was the problem, that he just wouldn’t drop the darn thing,” Kleven said. “It was a new set for his mother, and he didn’t want anything to happen to it, but I just wish he had dropped it.”

It did not help that Morgan had suffered a torn groin muscle in 1985, an injury so severe, it caused him to miss the season.

“A lot of the problems he had before were irritated,” Kleven said. “He was in so much pain later on, he spent the night lying on the floor.”

Kleven said Morgan was examined by an orthopedic surgeon and underwent X-rays that showed no breaks or tears. Rehabilitation began immediately at Kleven’s Las Vegas Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Center.

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Morgan finished the 1990 season tied for the league lead in shutouts with four but was 4-8 after the All-Star break en route to an 11-15 record.

Dodger Notes

When Mike Morgan arrives today, the only player out of camp will be Ramon Martinez, whose contract dispute is apparently no closer to a settlement. Jim Bronner, Martinez’s agent, mentioned the remote possibility of Martinez pitching in Japan. “We haven’t spoken to anybody in Japan, but we (his agents) have some players over there,” Bronner said. “The only way I could see him going there is if the rules say he can’t play here because he doesn’t report by March 6 and doesn’t have a negotiated contract. But we aren’t thinking about that. Our goal is to get him a negotiated contract.” . . . Pitchers Jim Neidlinger and Dave Walsh and infielder Greg Smith signed contracts, leaving eight unsigned players.


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