Shoulder injury sidelines Cubs reliever Guzman

Angel Guzman, who overcame years of injury problems to finally

have the kind of season the Chicago Cubs had envisioned, is out

indefinitely with a torn ligament in his pitching shoulder.

GM Jim Hendry said Saturday there was no timetable for Guzman’s

return.

“You just feel terrible for the kid,” he said. “He’s had such

a history … right when he’s had success, something has gone

wrong.”

The 28-year-old Guzman appeared in 55 games last season, going

3-3 with a 2.95 ERA, and the Cubs were hoping he’d be the top

right-handed setup man for closer Carlos Marmol this year.

Hendry has been looking for bullpen help but said there isn’t

much available now. Manager Lou Piniella has raved about Esmailin

Caridad and also has spoken highly of some of the other young arms

in camp, but there are few experienced options.

Two of the four pitchers (Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva, Sean

Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny) vying for spots in the rotation likely

will end up as late-inning relievers, Piniella said.

It’s been a sad offseason for Guzman, whose brother, Daniel,

died in his arms two months ago after being shot in their native

Venezuela. Five days earlier, Guzman had sustained a knee injury

that required arthroscopic surgery.

He began to complain of shoulder pain last month. Every time he

thought he was recovering, he had a setback, and he finally

underwent an MRI on Friday.

“It’s a shame,” Piniella said. “It seems like the kid is

jinxed.”

Hendry said Guzman probably will work on strengthening his

shoulder for the next four to six weeks. If that’s successful, he

could start throwing again. Surgery would be a last resort because

the required procedure would be invasive and wouldn’t guarantee a

full recovery.

Guzman joined the organization as a 17-year-old in 1999, two

years after the Cubs signed his countryman, Carlos Zambrano. While

Zambrano has gone on to be a three-time All-Star with well over

$100 million in career earnings, Guzman has been hurting.

In 2009, he struck out 47, walked 23 and allowed only 41 hits in

61 innings. He ended the season with an eight-outing scoreless

streak but was shut down for the final two weeks with a muscle

strain near his right armpit.

“At one time, this kid was as good a prospect as (Zambrano) on

the way up in the system,” Hendry said. “Your heart goes out to

him.”