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Rodgers Is Incensed by Gruber’s Surgery : Angels: Manager decries trade after third baseman undergoes rotator-cuff operation.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Angel Manager Buck Rodgers--angered by third baseman Kelly Gruber’s rotator-cuff surgery that will cause him to be sidelined for at least eight weeks--said Tuesday night that he no longer wants Gruber on his team and hopes the trade with the Toronto Blue Jays is rescinded.

“As far as I’m concerned,” Rodgers said, “Rene Gonzales is our third baseman and it will stay that way. This is a situation that never should have happened, and for whatever reason, it happened.

“It’s time that I looked out for the California Angels, and I’d rather have a healthy Rene Gonzales as my third baseman than a 60, 70, 80% Kelly Gruber. I’d just as soon send Gruber back to Toronto.

“There’s a saying, ‘Honor among thieves,’ and in my mind, this isn’t honor.”

Gruber, acquired Dec. 7 from the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade for infielder Luis Sojo, underwent 1 1/2 hours of arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to repair a partial tear in the rotator cuff and a small tear in a muscle. Lewis Yocum, who performed the surgery, said Gruber will be in a sling for two to three weeks and could not play until at least mid-April.

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“This is the basic projection,” Yocum said, “and to go beyond that is premature. The eight weeks is a number, and that’s all. We don’t want to paint him in any corner, and we have no real knowledge on how he’ll react to therapy.”

However, Rodgers believes the prognosis is unrealistic and doubts that Gruber will be fully recovered until at least June or July. “I’m no doctor, but never in my life have I ever seen a guy come back in eight weeks from rotator-cuff surgery,” Rodgers said. “Maybe a guy could come back that fast from a knee, but come on, not an arm.”

The Blue Jays reiterated Tuesday said they had no prior knowledge of Gruber’s shoulder injury. Gruber believes the injury occurred during Game 3 of the World Series when he dived to tag Atlanta outfielder Deion Sanders on an attempted triple play. Gruber said his shoulder ached from then on.

The Angels have yet to file an official protest, but informed the American League office of Gruber’s surgery. Dan O’Brien, Angel vice president/baseball operations, telephoned American League President Bobby Brown and will now send medical reports to the league office.

“I don’t know how this is going to get resolved, but I think something better be done,” Rodgers said. “If they don’t want to give us any more players, I’d just as soon take Sojo back and give them Gruber. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Kelly Gruber at 100%, but obviously that’s not going to happen.”

The Angels, according to a source familiar with Gruber’s contract, received $1.7 million from the Blue Jays to help pay Gruber’s $4 million salary.

When contacted at his Colorado home, Whitey Herzog, Angel vice president/player personnel, said it has yet to be decided whether the Angels will request that the trade be modified.

“I don’t think any of us think Toronto tried to pull a fast one on us,” Herzog said. “We’re not going to ask for any compensation right now, but if for some reason Gruber was out the whole season, it’d be a different story.”


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