Indians' Gutierrez Out For Season

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - Ricky Gutierrez's season is over, and now the Cleveland Indians second baseman is concerned about saving his career.

Gutierrez said doctors have recommended surgery on his injured neck, which he hurt while diving for a ball in the first few weeks of the season.

An MRI revealed that discs in Gutierrez's neck are rubbing and pinching his spinal cord.

"I'm going to get some more opinions, and then probably have the surgery," Gutierrez said Tuesday.

Gutierrez, who visited a neck specialist, said he would need 3-to-6 months to recover.

"It all depends on if everything goes well," he said. "Hopefully, I can be back for next year."

Gutierrez didn't tell the Indians about his neck until this past weekend in Anaheim while he was sitting out with an injured thumb.

The 30-year-old said his neck has been sore since April, and that whenever he moves he gets a tingling feeling up and down his left arm.

He was asked why he kept the injury a secret.

"I guess that's just the way I am," said Gutierrez, who signed a three-year, $11 million deal with the Indians in December. "I don't want to make any excuses. But it just got worse and worse."

The Indians placed him on the 15-day disabled list Monday while Gutierrez got further tests on his neck.

"I'm done for the year," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said he hurt his neck while diving to stop a grounder against Detroit in April, and although he was in constant pain, he continued to play anyway.

"I couldn't go left, couldn't go right," he said. "The only time it didn't seem to hurt was while I was hitting."

Again, he was asked why he wouldn't tell the Indians or their trainers.

"I grew up in a baseball family," he said. "My dad said, 'If you can walk out there, you're OK and you can play.'"

Gutierrez had a rough first year with Cleveland, which signed him as a free agent to play second after the Indians traded All-Star Roberto Alomar to the New York Mets.

A former shortstop for Houston and the Chicago Cubs, Gutierrez struggled at the plate and in the field. He looked incredibly slow in getting to ground balls and going back on popups.

Now, it appears there's a good reason for his problems.

Gutierrez batted .275 with four homers and 38 RBIs, but those numbers got a boost because he hit .366 with 29 RBIs in his last 41 games before injuring his thumb.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)