Will Clark's first season with the Baltimore Orioles has been called frustrating and disappointing. Now it probably is over.
The first baseman said today he has elected to undergo surgery on Thursday to remove bone chips in his left elbow, a condition that has plagued him his entire career. The surgery likely will end Clark's season. He got a cortisone injection early last week to help him play through the injury, but the shot in the arm was not the shot in the arm he needed.
"After that it got progressively worse," Clark said today. "I wasn't able to help with the exception of pinch-hitting and even that got worse."
The operation will be performed by James Andrews, a renowned Birmingham orthopedic surgeon. Orioles General Manager Frank Wren said the rehabilitation time is normally four to six weeks, which would keep Clark sidelined for the rest of this season.
"We want to get it done so that we know that going into next year he is fine," Wren said.
Clark said that in years past, cortisone injections have kept him in the lineup. But when this one didn't take, he knew his season was probably over. Clark also had bone chips removed after the 1996 season.
"This is definitely not the way I wanted to [end the season]," Clark said, "and that's one reason I got the cortisone shot."
He finishes with a .303 batting average, 10 homers and 29 RBI in 77 games. Outfielder Derrick May was called up from Class AAA Rochester to replace him on the roster. Clark expects be ready to play long before spring training, but the elbow problems will bother him the rest of his career.
"The rest of my life," Clark said. "This is not just affecting my baseball playing. It's affecting my everyday life. I have played my entire career with a broken elbow."