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Capps out 2 months

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

CINCINNATI - When it was discovered Wednesday that closer Matt Capps would miss eight weeks with a right shoulder ailment, Pirates management reacted with ... a sigh of relief?

Yes, but only because the news could have been even worse.

Capps returned to Pittsburgh yesterday morning and had a magnetic resonance angiography. The exam revealed bursitis and internal rotation deficit.

Essentially, Capps' shoulder muscles are preventing him from getting full extension when he throws. Over time, that would do significant damage to his rotator cuff.

"The good news is, this is something we caught early," general manager Neal Huntington said. "It's something we can handle before it would turn into a labrum tear."

Capps does not need surgery. He will spend four weeks on a rehab program, then another four weeks on a return-to-pitch program. He is expected to rejoin the team in early September.

"If he had continued to pitch, it almost certainly would have become a surgical problem," Huntington said.

The rehab from reconstructive shoulder surgery can take a year or more.

Capps first noticed something was wrong May 25, when he couldn't get loose a day after throwing three innings in a 14-inning game against the Chicago Cubs.

Capps has blown five saves over the past three weeks. However, he does not blame that on his shoulder woes.

"It would be easy to say that's the reason," Capps said. "But I think I've just struggled, that's all. But who knows• If I never blow another save the rest of my career, then I can say, 'Yeah, it was my shoulder.' "

Capps was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career.

First baseman Steve Pearce was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis -- which last night played at Louisville, a two-hour drive from Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati -- and joined the team in time for the game against the Reds.

However, Pearce will be with the Pirates only for this weekend's series in Milwaukee. He'll go back to Indy on Monday, when left-hander Phil Dumatrait comes off the disabled list.

Manager John Russell said right-handers Tyler Yates and Romulo Sanchez and lefties Damaso Marte and John Grabow would all be in the mix to close games while Capps is out.

"We've got some options," Russell said. "You might see more multi-inning saves as opposed to one-inning saves. I don't think of it as bullpen-by-committee. It's just using whoever is fresh."

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