10/18/2003 5:52 PM ET
Elbow KO's Fikac from Team USA
Reliever sent home with elbow tendonitis
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com WorldSeries.com
Billy Beane and the A's requested that Jeremy Fikac be shut down on Friday. (AP)
Peoria, Ariz. -- USA Baseball, in coordination with Major League Baseball, announced on Saturday that Oakland A's reliever Jeremy Fikac was sent home because of elbow tendinitis and roster cuts will be pushed back from Oct. 24-28 in order to give the coaching staff and selection committee more time to evaluate the players at the Olympic Qualifying Team trials.
Fikac, 28, pitched only one inning for Team USA and didn't give up a run while striking out two batters. However, Team USA pitching coach Dave Stewart felt from Day 1 that Fikac's right arm was hurting.
"From the outset, he threw a couple of bullpens [sessions] and didn't look comfortable. I thought there could be something wrong with him," Stewart said.
During the middle of the week, Stewart and manager Frank Robinson talked to Fikac about pitching two innings in a game in Mesa, Ariz., and the right-hander wasn't sure if he could go two innings. According to Robinson, Fikac kept going back to the skipper and Stewart every 15 minutes reiterating that pitching two innings might not be possible. During that time, Fikac never informed Robinson about the arm problem.
Team USA trainer John Fierro then informed Robinson and Stewart that Fikac had tendinitis in his elbow.
Friday night, Stewart called A's general manager Billy Beane and informed him of the situation. The A's then requested that Fikac be shut down. Fikac, who pitched in 14 Major League games this season, will be examined in Phoenix on Monday by the A's team doctor.
"He is obviously very important to the A's and somebody they thought should no longer remain in contention for making the team. We hate to lose him, but it's probably the right decision," said Dean Taylor, co-chairman of the selection committee.
Team USA now has 14 pitchers on the roster, and Robinson doesn't plan on adding another one. Robinson also said that he plans to carry 11 pitchers when Team USA goes to Panama starting Oct. 30 and play in the Americas Baseball Continental Qualifying Event for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
"We will keep it as it is. We have more than enough pitchers to select from," Robinson said. "I prefer the guys who have been here from the beginning. We've gone through this period of time of conditioning and playing games. Dave and I are getting to know them and they are getting to know us. These are the guys we will go to Panama with after we select the 24 players.
On Friday evening, Robinson attended a meeting that included Taylor and Bob Watson, also a co-chairman of the selection committee. Robinson was pleased to learn that he and his coaching staff were given more time to evaluate players before making the final cuts on October 28. So far, almost everyone on the squad is playing well. Entering Saturday's action, Team USA is hitting .357 and has a 2.18 ERA after seven games.
"I was always under the impression that Oct. 24 was the mandatory deadline. And when I found out that it wasn't, I felt the extra time would give us the opportunity to look at these guys and make a decision on them," Robinson said. "I think the longer we look at these players, the less chance we have to make a mistake. This is why the date was extended.
"Just about everyone is doing the job. There are always one or two guys who are not hitting and I think it will give them the opportunity to try to show us what they could do. Some of the guys who are hitting, we will see if they are the real thing."