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Saturday, March 12, 2011
Omar Beltre returns to camp after surgery

By Richard Durrett

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Omar Beltre returned to Surprise Recreation Campus on Saturday after having spinal surgery. Beltre said he felt good and was glad to be back. So what exactly was the surgery about?

Assistant GM Thad Levine explained it this morning, saying the surgery involved the thoracic vertebrae and a narrowing of the canal where the nerves feed into the spine because of calcification. That was pinching the nerve, but it also was pinching his spinal cord. That's why he felt some numbness in the extremities.

"They went in and did the procedure and effectively cleaned up that calcification, relieved the pinching of both his spinal cord and the nerve," Levine said. "Where it gets dicey is not knowing the long-term effects on the spinal cord."

Levine said the good news from the surgery is that the spinal cord symptoms have resolved themselves entirely.

"It's still a little bit of a wait and see as to how things progress, but we're effectively going to start a program with him now," Levine said. "We're not going to truly know the landmarks along the way because this is so unique."

The club doesn't know of any baseball player that's had this condition, so they aren't sure exactly what all will be involved in Beltre's attempt to return to playing condition. The plan right now is for him to do some cardio work. Beltre said he hopes to play catch next week.

Through it all, it seems Beltre has kept a good attitude. He had all of the issues (along with Alexi Ogando) of getting a visa to come to the United States. He gets here and then discovers he has the rare and scary condition.

"It's hard," Beltre said about all that's gone on for him the past few years. "But it's part of life . You have to try to be healthy now. I'm going ot work hard and try to be ready to go."