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Seanez won't let injury get in way of game

February 04, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

The Major League Baseball career of Brawley native Rudy Seanez has had its twists and turns, but two things consistent throughout have been nagging injuries and his ability to throw some of the hardest heat in baseball.

Things seemed to be going well for Seanez during the 2000 season with the Atlanta Braves as he stepped into a main setup role for an Atlanta bullpen that had been struggling on and off the field.

With the controversy surrounding closer John Rocker, Seanez's role was heightened. He started the year on fire, allowing only seven hits in his first 13 appearances with a 2.92 ERA, but finished with a 2-4 record with two saves and a 4.29 ERA.

His season was cut short June 15 when he tore a ligament in his right pitching arm that required ligament transplant surgery, also known as "Tommy John surgery."

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Before the 2000 season Seanez, a nine-year veteran of the majors, signed a one-year deal with the Braves and as soon as the season ended he became a free agent.

For Seanez the injury couldn't have come at a worse time. Because he is still rehabilitating his arm he has been unable to pitch for any interested teams. He was scheduled to throw a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles, but he felt throwing would be useless for all involved.

"I'm probably about 80 percent right now. And if I were to have gone out there all they'd see was a guy who couldn't throw any breaking pitches and only throw about 80 mph," said Seanez. "They could've thrown a high school pitcher out there to see that."

So not until he is 100 percent will he be able to showcase his talent to any teams. Because he is ahead of his rehabilitation schedule, doctors say it would be safe for him to pitch at full strength in about a month.

Seanez, 32, said retirement is out of the question.

"No, I'm not retiring. I feel that as long as I can be effective I'm going to keep playing," Seanez said. "I still have a few more years left in me and I do want to keep playing."

On his short list of teams to play for would be Atlanta, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres. All three make sense considering his recent history with the Braves and the closeness of his hometown to Arizona and San Diego.

One team he said he would avoid at any cost would be the Montreal Expos because of a lack of fan support.

He did say the Braves have inquired about his rehab progress but have not offered a contract. Because of his injury-plagued career, he thinks many teams will pass up on him, but he thinks he can still contribute.

"There's a lot of teams that don't want to take a risk on a guy with as many injuries as I've had, but I think I can still get the job done," said Seanez. "I know I'll be able to get back from this injury and I'm sure I'll catch on with someone this year."

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