08/18/08 6:48 PM ET
Percival opts not to have surgery
Closer chooses rehabilitation and anti-inflammatory medication
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
The 39-year-old Rays closer said he went to see team physician Dr. Koco Eaton Monday morning fully expecting to go under the knife to help repair a cartilage injury in his knee. However, upon examination, Eaton offered Percival an option with significant upside.
"The prognosis was basically that if I got [surgery] done it was going to be October," Percival said of his return to the Rays bullpen. "And without it, it's very feasible [to come back in] two weeks. I've just got to deal with pain and go. It's not going to do any more damage."
The veteran right-hander said the pain is "tolerable" and made it clear that he wouldn't be on the DL any longer than necessary.
"Once I'm good to go, I'll be out there," Percival said, adding that his knee is feeling better with each passing day.
Fighting through injury is nothing new for the Rays closer as Percival is currently shelved for the third time this season. His most recent trip is the result of an injury suffered in the ninth inning of Thursday's 7-6 win over the Athletics.
Percival cited the anti-inflammatory medication he has been taking since Friday as key in his progress and, although he will undergo surgery during the offseason, he doesn't see his knee injury as a hindrance in his pitching motion.
Manager Joe Maddon was equally optimistic about his closer and acknowledged avoiding surgery is possible largely because of Percival's fortitude and high pain tolerance.
"If he thinks he can do it, he can do it," Maddon said, adding that once he found out Percival wouldn't injure himself further, the Rays skipper was on board.
"Just to get him back would be important," Maddon said. "I know [Percival] wants to get back into it. We want him to get back into it. It totally presents a different look to our bullpen and our potential to win this thing."
A four-time All-Star, Percival is 2-0 with 27 saves and a 3.69 ERA this season with the Rays. He has held opponents to a .162 average, which ranks sixth-lowest among Major League relievers, and is seventh on the all-time saves list with 351 successful saves.
The Rays are 32-0 when the veteran Percival enters a save situation and have been using a closer-by-committee approach in his absence as Maddon has declined to name a de facto closer.
The return of Percival ahead of schedule would be a major lift for the Rays, who are currently without two-time All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford and rookie sensation Evan Longoria, both of whom are also on the DL.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.