Clement's status for 2007 uncertain

Clement's status for 2007 uncertain

BOSTON -- Red Sox right-hander Matt Clement was hoping that the arthroscopic surgery he had on his ailing right shoulder Tuesday would basically amount to a tune-up. However, renowned sports orthopedist Dr. James Andrews discovered early on in the procedure that it was going to be a lot more significant than that.

Clement, according to sources, had damage repaired in both his labrum and rotator cuff. His status for 2007 is uncertain at this time.

The Red Sox, citing the wishes of Clement, didn't provide specifics in regard to what was done during the surgery.

"Matt Clement underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery by Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday to address ongoing issues with his right shoulder," Red Sox spokesman John Blake announced during Wednesday's game. "There was significant abnormality identified at the time of surgery, which was addressed. Matt will begin with a period of rest following the procedure, which will be followed by an extensive rehabilitation process."

Clement's surgery was involved enough that his 2007 season could well be in jeopardy.

"I saw reports of 12 to 18 months," said Barry Axelrod, Clement's agent. "So I asked Dr. Andrews and he said they couldn't give a specific timetable. Everybody's different in terms of what they can withstand. It's too early in the game. He said, it could be 12 to 18 months. It could be sooner, it could be longer."

While Clement's toughness has, at times, been questioned in fan and media circles during his two seasons in Boston, Dr. Andrews, according to Axelrod, had the opposite reaction after surveying the damage to his shoulder.

"He was amazed that Matt had been able to do anything at all," said Axelrod. "Once he saw the shape he was in, he was amazed that Matt had been trying to throw and get back before the end of the season. That's what tricks you -- tricks the doctors. These guys are highly motivated and well conditioned. He said Matt was a pretty tough cookie."

Clement underwent an MRI in mid-June -- he also stopped pitching at that time -- and no significant damage could be detected. A period of rest and rehab was prescribed. But Clement continued to have setbacks whenever he would increase his throwing program. The final straw came last Friday in Toronto, when Clement had to shut it down after just six or seven pitches in a side session.

Dr. Andrews also didn't see much in the MRI he gave Clement earlier this week. The only way to determine what ailed Clement was to perform the arthroscopic surgery.

"The damage was more extensive than anyone thought. It was more extensive than the diagnostics had shown," said Axelrod. "One of the things Dr. Andrews told me was it was not terribly uncommon for an MRI to look normal for a guy who has pitched his whole life, and then to find something that isn't normal.

"Dr. Andrews thought it was prudent to go in there. He thought it would be a little tune-up -- sand it down, clean it up. But once he got in there, there was a lot more work that needed to be done and it took a lot more time than he thought it would."

From the start, 2006 was a rough one for Clement. He finished the year 5-5 with a 6.61 ERA over 12 starts. If nothing else, Clement had always been durable in his career, making 30-plus starts seven years in a row.

The Red Sox owe Clement $9.5 million in '07, the final season of the three-year, $25.5 million deal he signed with the club in December 2004. However, with the injury, insurance might relieve the Red Sox of some of the financial burden.

Once Clement gets to the point of rehab, he will work extensively with Red Sox assistant trainer Mike Reinold, who used to work with Dr. Andrews in Birmingham.

"Dr. Andrews has a lot of confidence in Mike Reinold," said Axelrod. "He said there is no one better at rehabbing a surgical repair like this than Mike Reinold."

Axelrod was also supremely confident in his client's ability to bounce back from this adverse situation.

"Matt's a pretty hard worker," Axelrod said. "He'll be immobile for several weeks. There may be little range of motion, where he can take the sling off for a little bit, but it's going to be strapped to his side for a while. That will be the roughest period, because Matt is an active guy. Once he gets through that, there is a wide range of possibilities. We hope Matt is on the positive end of that spectrum."

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.