In a last-ditch attempt to salvage his season, injured Washington Bullets center Jeff Ruland has taken an injection he hopes will assist his recovery from a strained right shoulder.

Ruland has played in only 37 of the Bullets' 80 games this season, last seeing action Feb. 1. He was given the shot -- which Ruland said included cortisone and novocaine -- Monday by team physician Steven Haas.

The all-star center is expected to be reexamined Saturday before Washington's season finale against the Philadelphia 76ers, when a decision will be made on Ruland's status for the playoffs. The team must submit a binding, 12-man playoff roster to the NBA office by midnight Sunday.

"I'd done a lot of talking to doctors and my lawyer and we decided that this is the last thing I can do," Ruland said today from his home in Mitchellville, Md. "If this doesn't work, then chances are what's wrong isn't tendinitis and I'll probably have to go to New York to a hospital for special surgery and have an arthroscope done to look inside and see what's there."

Ruland was told that the injection would initially cause some soreness in the arm but would alleviate most of the lingering pain in a few days. Today, Ruland said his shoulder "wasn't as bad as it was on, say, Tuesday. It feels a little better but there's still some soreness in there."

Bullets trainer John Lally said today the injection was "nothing unusual. I don't know specifically what was in it, probably cortisone, but it would be the same as someone taking a shot for tennis elbow. It helps reduce the inflammation in the area. You put a healing agent in the area. I talked to Jeff Tuesday. I know he was sore, but that was expected. It is not that unusual a procedure."

Haas was not available to comment tonight.

Since injuring the shoulder Jan. 14 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ruland has been listed as day to day. He has seen a number of doctors throughout the country, none of whom could pinpoint a specific injury or recovery date.

Bullets management had expressed concern over the number of doctors sought out by Ruland, feeling the multitude of opinions only served to confuse the issue. The team also had hoped Ruland would have consented to an injection earlier, but he resisted until Monday.

After Wednesday night's 106-97 loss to the Bucks in Milwaukee, Washington Coach Gene Shue said the team was maintaining its wait-and-see attitude on Ruland. "Of course we're not going to file our playoff roster before we have to, but if we had to do it today, Jeff would be on it," he said.

While Ruland continued therapy, the rest of the Bullets journeyed to Detroit for Friday night's game against the Pistons. The game will be played at Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit, as opposed to the Pontiac Silverdome, the team's normal home. The Pistons were displaced from there for the rest of the season after a winter snowstorm damaged the roof of the structure.