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Beltre to undergo more surgery

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Posted: Thursday March 08, 2001 2:22 PM
Updated: Thursday March 08, 2001 10:03 PM

  Adrian Beltre The Dodgers' Adrian Beltre hit .290 last season with 20 home runs and 85 RBIs. Brian Bahr/Allsport

VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre will have surgery Monday to close a wound in his abdomen from an emergency appendectomy two months ago.

There was no immediate word as to how long the 21-year-old third baseman will be sidelined.

"He's not going to be available for Opening Day, that's a certainty," team physician Dr. Michael Mellman said Thursday.

When asked how long Beltre will be sidelined, Mellman said he wasn't sure.

"If you're asking do I think Adrian will play baseball this year, unequivocally yes," Mellman said. "If you ask me when, I'll be a lot smarter after the surgery."

The operation will be performed by Dr. Robert Shorr at the Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, Calif. Mellman said it could take anywhere from one to six hours.

Beltre underwent an emergency appendectomy in his native Dominican Republic on Jan. 12, and hasn't eaten solid food since. The wound, in his right lower abdomen, has not healed as doctors expected.

"This was my own decision," Beltre said. "Now, we'll have an idea after the surgery how long I'll be out. I think it will be better for me."

Last weekend, Mellman expressed hope that Beltre would be ready to start the season, and Beltre participated in light workouts this week.

"We've seen the drainage get better and get worse, get better and now get worse again," Mellman said. "We thought it would close on its own, but it's apparent that won't happen in the foreseeable future."

Mellman said the drainage got worse in the last few days, but said the workouts weren't the cause.

"I think it's more coincidence than anything else," Mellman said.

Beltre is expected to remain in the hospital for 7-to-10 days after the operation and then begin rehabilitation.

Beltre batted .290 with 20 homers, 85 RBIs and 71 runs scored in 138 games last season. He hit .331 with 12 homers and 47 RBI after the All-Star break.

"The main goal of the Dodgers has always been the safety and health of Adrian Beltre," general manager Kevin Malone said. "We feel that this is the best step to take at this time in order for Adrian to return and contribute to this team of which he is an important and vital part."

The Dodgers' situation at third base is shaky at best. Pinch-hitting specialist Dave Hansen, a likely replacement for Beltre, broke the middle finger on his left hand last Friday in the exhibition opener and is expected to be out another 3-to-5 weeks.

Other possibilities are Chris Donnels, Jeff Reboulet, Tim Bogar and Phil Hiatt.

"Chris Donnels will be a candidate, and we'll explore the possibilities based on what happens over the next few weeks," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "There are also players in other training camps. We'll just see how this shakes out."

Tracy said the Dodgers will especially miss Beltre's defense.

"Even though he committed some errors, he made some mistakes just due to the learning curve," Tracy said. "Over the long haul, he'll be a hell of a third baseman."

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