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03/06/10 4:14 PM ET

Guzman has tear in throwing shoulder

Ligament damage is latest injury to Cubs' hard-luck righty

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs pitcher Angel Guzman has a significant tear in a ligament in his right shoulder and will not be ready Opening Day. Whether he will undergo surgery is yet to be determined.

"He has a very unstable shoulder," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said on Saturday. "There's no timeframe of anywhere soon that he'll be pitching. Obviously, it wasn't good news."

Guzman underwent an MRI on his shoulder on Friday after complaining of discomfort. He had not thrown off the mound this spring.

It's been a difficult few months for Guzman, 28, who injured his right knee running in Venezuela, then five days later, lost his brother, who was shot to death in Caracas on Jan. 11. Guzman, who has been recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, had yet to throw off the mound this spring.

"You just feel terrible for the kid," Hendry said. "Right when he has success and has great stuff, something has gone wrong. We were very pleased with his throwing in January. It's a shame.

"At one time, this guy was as good a prospect as [Carlos Zambrano] in the system," Hendry said of Guzman, whose career has been slowed by shoulder and elbow injuries. "It just seems like it's been one thing after another. He's had some success the last couple years with well-above-average stuff and was capable of pitching at any point in the game for you."

Guzman is trying to decide his options. The surgical approach is unpredictable. Guzman could take a more conservative route of treatment to strengthen the shoulder, and that would require four to six weeks of exercises. Then, he'd have to start all over again.

This injury is related to the soreness he had at the end of last season near his right armpit, which prompted the Cubs to shut Guzman down on Sept. 22.

Guzman was projected to handle late-inning relief this season and was a candidate for the setup job. Last year was his best, as he appeared in a career-high 55 games, compiling a 2.95 ERA.

The Cubs were already looking for a veteran right-handed setup pitcher to complement lefty John Grabow and bridge the gap to closer Carlos Marmol. Right now, Esmailin Caridad is projected to fill that role.

"It's been well documented that from [the Winter Meetings] on we've talked about adding one more piece," Hendry said. "That was the same plan before this."

There are four pitchers vying for two spots in the Cubs' rotation, and the two who don't get starting jobs could slide into the bullpen.

"First of all, you have to see how guys here pitch in camp," Hendry said. "We've got seven or eight guys who we think can be in the rotation in the five spot. Those people who don't break in the rotation are capable of going to the 'pen."

The Cubs played their crosstown rivals, the White Sox, on Saturday, and manager Ozzie Guillen made a point of asking Hendry about Guzman's status. Both are from Venezuela.

"It's very sad news for me, personally," Guillen said about Guzman. "He's great friends with my kids. I know this kid for a little while. When you hear that from anyone, especially from him, it's a shame. The last couple years, he's suffered a lot of injuries, his brother got killed. I feel for that man.

"It's a shame with that kind of arm, that kind of stuff, he's always hurt. He had a chance to be a great pitcher."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.