The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Marlins Conine Undergoes Second Offseason Shoulder Surgery

Marlins outfielder Jeff Conine underwent a second surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder last week. Earlier in the offseason Conine underwent surgery to repair some damage incurred throughout the course of the previous major league season.

This last surgery though wasn’t required because of anything baseball related. Instead Conine suffered a shoulder separation while playing racquetball or paddleball. As some of you may know, Conine is (or at least was) a “world-class” racquetball player for some time. He was ranked (who knew there was such a thing) highly in his age group and has regularly played the game over the years during the baseball offseason.

Now, however, Conine’s injury is similar to Aaron Boone’s basketball induced knee injury last offseason. Boone’s injury, which was serious enough to cause him to miss the entire 2004 season, allowed the Yankees to void his contract and release him (which fortuitously for the Yankees, helped them to be able to afford the Alex Rodriguez acquisition). Conine fears that the same fate may befall him, as he is due a fairly hefty paycheck from the Marlins next year (although the Fish are highly unlikely to be able to land a talent as great as Alex Rodriguez if they do jettison the aging Conine).

More details about the injury, surgery, and contract situation can be found in this article.

In the end, I don’t expect to see the Marlins let Conine go. While they could save some money by releasing him, they’d have to be sure that the injury was serious enough to warrant such action (and it very likely isn’t). They would also have to be able to find an adequate replacement for Conine – which they are unlikely to do. Conine’s skills are surely declining – he’s not the player he was in the 90s to be sure – he still is an adequate major leaguer, and the Marlins will need his bat in the lineup and to take up many innings at either first base or in left field next season.

So, in the end, this story is more interesting than the resigning of Lenny Harris to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp at Spring Training, but in the end, there’s probably not much to speculate on at least until we can all see how recovered Conine is when he arrives in Jupiter this spring.


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