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Rays

Iwamura hopeful of return to team

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2013 at 08:43 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

Although the question of whether he'll ever play another game for the Rays won't be answered for some time, 2B Akinori Iwamura isn't wavering on what he wants to do.

"My hope is my first game off the injury will be at Tropicana Field," Iwamura said through his interpreter Friday, addressing the media for the first time since suffering a season-ending injury Sunday in Miami.

The five-time Japan All-Star suffered a torn ACL, damage to his MCL and partially torn ligaments in his ankle when Marlins OF Chris Coghlan collided with him to break up a double play.

He'll undergo ACL reconstructive surgery in a few weeks when the swelling recedes - Iwamura said he plans to have team orthopedist Koco Eaton do the procedure - and faces about several months of rehabilitation.

The Rays hold a $4.25 million option on Iwamura for 2010, and there has been speculation the club, needing to keep its payroll in check, will spend the money elsewhere.

Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said Friday the Rays are focused on the 2009 season and getting Iwamura healthy.

Iwamura also said the injury caused the worst pain he's felt in baseball and that he has nothing to say to Coghlan, a graduate of East Lake High in Tarpon Springs. Coghlan apologized at least twice to Iwamura for the legal play.

"Hopefully it doesn't happen again to other players," he said.

Injury updates

DH Pat Burrell has been eligible to come off the DL for a few days, but the Rays' plan to test his stiff neck was put off again Friday.

Friedman said the problem is the neck stiffness is on Burrell's left side, affecting his ability to turn toward the pitcher, but that "by no means do I anticipate it being a long-term issue or surgical issue."

Manager Joe Maddon said SS Jason Bartlett (ankle sprain) may be out longer than the originally projected two weeks and RHP Chad Bradford, rehabbing in the minors after elbow surgery, will soon be moved up to Double-A Montgomery.

Maddon also said the club will structure a workout and drill program designed to help LHP Scott Kazmir (right quad strain) regain his delivery mechanics.

Decision coming

Friedman and Maddon said they plan to meet with RHP Troy Percival soon to discuss whether the former closer will attempt to rejoin the club or retire. Percival, who is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA and six saves, is on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis.

"I think he's had a chance to clear his head a little bit," Friedman said. "I'm anxious to see where he is mentally and physically. We'll talk, and as I said last week, we'll be supportive of whatever he wants to do."

Notable

Friedman said the Rays likely will continue to fill-in for Iwamura with players already in the organization but conceded that Bartlett's injury has left the club thin in the middle infield. ... The Rays begin their summer concert series tonight with platinum-recording band 3 Doors Down performing after the game. Tickets start at $13.

Tony Fabrizio

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