Rijo Throwing Sliders, Still Fuming
Feb. 21, 1996
PLANT CITY, Fla. (AP) _ Jose Rijo is accelerating his schedule for recovery from major elbow surgery and still stewing over a playoff snub by Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott.
Rijo said Wednesday he is considering asking for a trade when he can pitch again. He is upset that Schott did not invite him to travel with the team during the playoffs last fall.
The former ace of the rotation criticized Schott when he showed up for training camp last week. He said he could never feel the same about the organization again.
``I've felt that way a long time, but what happened made me want to do something about it,'' he said.
Reds general manager Jim Bowden did not return a phone message left Wednesday afternoon at the team's training headquarters.
The Reds essentially wrote Rijo off for the first half of the season after he had reconstructive elbow surgery last Aug. 22. Dr. James Andrews rebuilt the elbow _ so-called ``Tommy John'' surgery _ by replacing a ligament. Players usually require a year to recover from the operation.
However, Rijo showed up in training camp throwing fastballs and predicted he would be able to pitch in a couple months. He is accelerating the recovery schedule by throwing the slider, which strains the elbow.
``I gave myself the OK,'' Rijo said. ``(Andrews) even told me, `Easy, Jose. Easy.' Heck, I've been waiting six months for this.''
The Reds are concerned that Rijo might do too much and injure the elbow. Manager Ray Knight said Rijo threw his slider gently on Tuesday.
``If I saw him spinning that slider hard, I'd have a fit,'' Knight said. ``I told Jose, `Please be careful and cautious. You've got the rest of your life to think about.'
``Even so, where I expected Jose to be about May, he was already there when we got here.''
Rijo, 30, is in the third year of a four-year, $22 million contract. He has base salaries of $5.5 million this year and $5.75 million next year. If he's unable to pitch, the Reds can collect on an insurance policy for Rijo.