Athletics closer Octavio Dotel will have reconstructive elbow surgery as soon as possible, despite receiving recommendations from four doctors that he try to rehabilitate the injury first.
“Octavio does not feel he can pitch with the level of pain he was pitching with,” A’s trainer Larry Davis said Thursday. “Everybody’s tolerance level is different. Octavio feels like he’s tried long enough. … He’s been throwing a long time and is tired of recurrent tendinitis.”
Dotel will be sidelined at least a year and possibly up to two years. That is a major concern for him because his contract is up after this season.
“I do worry about it,” he said. “This year was one of my important years, especially because I (will be) a free agent. Hey, things happen. I bet I’m not the first one to go through this situation. And I won’t be the last.”
Dotel, who blew four saves in five outings from April 30 to May 11, had the elbow examined by Angels doctor Lewis Yocum and Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Andrews will perform the ligament replacement surgery.
“It’s not anything anybody is doing handsprings over,” Davis said of Dotel’s decision. “In our estimation, you’d like to have everybody give it another try before you do this, so you think you’ve done everything possible to avoid this.”
General manager Billy Beane expressed disappointment that the A’s are losing Dotel, but also emphasized that both sides can move on without the uncertainty of his health.
“He saw a number of doctors and it became pretty apparent Octavio wasn’t going to be completely satisfied … or free of the distraction,” Beane said. “He was always going to wonder. This gives him peace of mind.”
Dotel hopes to be back in a game by the middle of next season, and he hopes it’s with the A’s. He feels he owes them something to earn his money – even if his salary is lower and he has to be the setup man for rookie Huston Street, the new closer.
“Hey, if I’ve got to play for free, I’ll do that,” he said.
He also accepted the idea that it might be his last day in the Oakland clubhouse.
Dotel is 1-2 with seven saves and a 3.52 ERA, walking 11 in 15 1-3 innings. Davis hasn’t seen such a situation before where a player was so adamant about having surgery in spite of doctors’ advice.
“You don’t try to talk someone out of surgery, because if you do and they don’t do well, you’re in a no-win situation,” Davis said. “There’s no guarantee with any surgery. Nothing’s 100 percent.”
Huston Street, just a year removed from blowing away the Big 12 as part of NCAA runner up Texas, is now Oakland’s closer for the forseeable future. The rookie reliever collected his first big league save Thursday night as the A’s beat the Blue Jays, 5-3 on Eric Chavez’ 5th inning grand slam (above).