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Sunday, April 6
Updated: April 7, 10:59 AM ET
Surgery would put Junior out for the season

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Ken Griffey Jr. will be out for at least six weeks as he recovers from a dislocated right shoulder.

Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey landed on the shoulder while diving for a fly ball on Saturday, the third straight season that the Cincinnati Reds outfielder has suffered a major injury in March or April.

Dr. Timothy Kremchek popped the shoulder back into place at the ballpark on Saturday. X-rays and other tests found no fractures or major injury to the rotator cuff.

Griffey will try to rehabilitate the shoulder rather than have surgery, and optimistically could be playing again in six-to-10 weeks, Kremchek said. There is a possibility that he might have to have surgery anyway.

"If he had surgery now, he'd miss the season,'' Kremchek said, after examining Griffey on Sunday. "If we rehab him and he's unable to get back, he still has surgery and misses the season.

"Looking at the tests and examinations we've done on him, I think there's an excellent chance he'll be able to return this year.''

Kremchek said Griffey was still in a lot of pain Sunday.

"He's down,'' Kremchek said. "Yesterday, he was in shock. He had worked very hard and looked very good in spring training, and was looking forward to the season. He's discouraged. I think the fact that we can rehab this and get him back to playing this year has given him some hope.''

The clubhouse was still somber Sunday before a 5-4 win over the Cubs finished off the Reds' first homestand at Great American Ball Park.

"I feel so bad for Griff,'' first baseman Sean Casey said. "It looked like he was turning the corner. So many good things happened for him this spring. He looked 100 percent healthy. Then this happens.

"It's just so disappointing. We know how much he was looking forward to this season and how much it was going to mean to him. I think that's where our hearts hurt for him. It's the worst luck.''

The 33-year-old Griffey has been repeatedly sidelined by injuries since he returned to his hometown team in a February 2000 trade with Seattle.

He pulled a hamstring during that first season, then tore the same hamstring while rounding third base during an exhibition game in the final week of spring training 2001.

Six games into last season, he tore a tendon in his right knee while trying to change directions during a rundown between third and home. Griffey was limited to 28 homers the last two seasons.

He worked hard over the winter to build up his legs, and hit six homers this spring. Griffey seemed determined to prove that he's still one of baseball's best.

He got the first hit at the Reds' new ballpark, and later hit a homer, the 469th of this career. He was hurt in the fifth game of the season -- one earlier than last year.

"If he didn't have bad luck, he would have no luck at all,'' outfielder Adam Dunn said.

Shortstop Barry Larkin is one of Griffey's closest friends and took the injury hard. He said it was difficult to watch him rolling on the ground in pain.

"I know how important it is for him to stay healthy and play, coming off the years he's had and all the criticism that he's had about, 'You're not playing hard, not playing hurt,' all of the negative that surrounds him,'' Larkin said. "It's unfortunate and undeserving and too bad.''

Griffey is the game's second superstar to dislocate a shoulder in the opening week. The Yankees' Derek Jeter hurt his left shoulder while sliding into third base in the season opener.

Like Griffey, Jeter is going to try to rehabilitate the shoulder rather than have surgery.

The Reds haven't made a roster move to replace Griffey. Manager Bob Boone planned to start Larkin in center field on Sunday, but changed his mind after talking to him for a half-hour.

Larkin played one game in center this spring, the first time in his pro career that he had appeared in the outfield. Boone said Larkin will take fly balls before games to get used to the position.

"At some point, you'll probably see him out there,'' Boone said. "It's really a matter of when and how to do it.''

Larkin felt nervous and awkward in his outfield appearance this spring.

"We've got a situation where I'm probably the last-case scenario if nobody else can get it done,'' Larkin said. "I'll definitely take some fly balls so I don't embarrass myself or the ballclub. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

"Hopefully, Junior will be back soon enough to make it a moot point.''

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 Doctor's Orders
Griffey's season contingent on successful rehabilitation.
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