Guillen won't need surgery on wrist

Guillen won't need surgery on wrist

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A day after finding out that he could be out for three months because of a left wrist injury, Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen learned on Saturday that his injury isn't as severe, though he will still not be able to take part in baseball activities for seven to 10 days.

On Thursday, Guillen had an MRI on the wrist after it became sore during batting practice the previous day. The MRI revealed that one of the tendons in the wrist was damaged and that Guillen had tenosynovitis of the extensor tendon.

Dr. Edward St. Mary, who is from Melbourne, Fla., and not a sports doctor, had recommended a surgical procedure to repair the damaged tendon.

Guillen sought a second opinion, and both Dr. Thomas Graham, the team's medical director, and Dr. Tim Kremchek, the Nationals' senior consultant, felt the original diagnosis was wrong. They found no tendon damage, just fluid and inflammation in the wrist and did not recommend surgery.

"I told you that I would be ready," Guillen said. "There's still concern on my part, but the doctor put a smile on my face today. He brought some good news. He thinks I'll be ready by Opening Day."

Graham and Kremchek both feel that Guillen needs to receive a cortisone shot, take oral medication and wear a wrist splint. Kremchek believes that Guillen should be ready for Opening Day.

"It didn't add up," said Kremchek. "It didn't seem right. If you know baseball players ... this is not a surgical problem. So we looked at the MRI, and there's no structural damage. All his tendons and ligaments were normal. He had fluid and inflammation on the top part of his wrist, and that's from hitting the ball hard, overdoing it and trying to get in shape for the season. I think he did too much too soon and he aggravated the wrist. ... We hope to have Jose back within a week.

"If you look at the timing of baseball, where we are, it's not going to hurt Jose and the Nationals to keep him out for a week. We just have to monitor what he does when we get him back on the field."

Guillen said that Graham gave him a strength test, and it turns out that his left wrist is stronger than his right.

"It was a hard test, but I didn't have any problems," Guillen said.

Both general manager Jim Bowden and manager Frank Robinson were relieved to know that Guillen will not be out for a long period of time, but they are being cautious on when Guillen returns to the field.

Guillen is already recovering from left shoulder surgery, which was performed in November, and he said that the shoulder is at 75 percent. Guillen injured the shoulder in June 2005 while sliding into home plate against the Blue Jays.

"We like the opinion we got today from both doctors and we are going to stick with those opinions," Bowden said. "Dr. Kremchek and Dr. Graham have a lot of history with athletes and these types of injuries. A lot of times how you treat an injury to a professional athlete compared to how you treat it with [an average person] is completely different. If there was risk involved, we would not go this route."

Said Robinson, "It's great news. We just have to wait and see how he comes out of it. I'm not going to look at Opening Day. We'll look at it one day at a time and see how he feels. You can't rush this thing."

If Guillen were lost for a long period of time, it would have meant that the Nationals would need to look for a slugger within the organization. Team president Tony Tavares already said that the team was not going to spend money looking for an outfielder outside the organization.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.