02-24-2006, 08:08 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Dave Wallace almost dies, will miss season after hip replacement
Wallace likely out for year
By Chris Snow, Globe Staff | February 24, 2006
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Pitching coach Dave Wallace, who developed an infection in his hip earlier this month, underwent hip replacement surgery yesterday, making it unlikely he will be with the team this season, if ever again.
Wallace's condition, according to Red Sox ace Curt Schilling, had deteriorated last week to the point that ''he literally almost died."
The procedure, according to a team source, was ''a necessary part of the process of clearing the infection. They think he will be OK in time, but . . . all infections are serious."
''The hip replacement," the team source added, ''will mean that he's out for several months at a minimum, probably longer. It's a serious matter and requires attention."
The operation, apparently, has stabilized Wallace's condition. Without him, the Sox are faced with a difficult task. The staff is a blend of pitchers who have worked with Wallace (Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Matt Clement, Bronson Arroyo, Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Timlin, Keith Foulke) and pitchers new to the organization (Josh Beckett, Juli√°n Tav√°rez, Rudy Se√°nez, David Riske).
''He's invaluable," Schilling said last night. ''On a personal level, that's not the kind of situation I want to be in, having to relearn someone or have someone learn me at this point in my career. But this is one of those nothing-you-can-do-about-it situations.
''The priority is and the important part is Dave is OK. He literally almost died last week, and as close as we are, we are family. We know that. We know what kind of guy he is. That is the initial relief, and then there is the disappointment, because he is such a big part of what I do and how good I am at it.
''But he's not going to be here. Whatever we have to do, we'll find a way to do it. You just hope someone comes in and can help. The onus has fallen on Al, and he'll be fine."
Al would be 46-year-old Al Nipper, hired in the offseason as the bullpen coach. A veteran of 17 seasons in the Sox organization in a variety of capacities (pitcher, pitching coach, minor league pitching coordinator), Nipper has been serving as interim pitching coach and is expected to assume Wallace's duties for spring training and the season. Ralph Truel, who managed the Sox' Gulf Coast League team last season, is expected to assume Nipper's responsibilities as bullpen coach this season.
''It's a bad situation for [Dave]," Nipper said yesterday. ''I'm just here to keep things in line. He put together a good program, so I'm just trying to carry it out. I'm just keeping the seat warm for him."
Wallace joined the Sox in the summer of 2003 when pitching coach Tony Cloninger took a medical leave to battle bladder cancer. Wallace's contract expires at season's end.
Wallace, a former pitcher with the Phillies and Blue Jays, has worked as a coach or executive in pro baseball since 1981, mostly with the Dodgers, helping develop pitchers Pedro and Ramon Mart√*nez, Pedro Astacio, Hideo Nomo, and John Wetteland, among others. Before coming to Boston, the 58-year-old Wallace worked as the Dodgers' senior vice president of baseball operations. Before that, he worked as interim GM of the Dodgers for the 2001 season.
The Waterbury, Conn., native and Norfolk, Mass., resident's health issues are traceable to a hip replacement he had about 10 years ago.
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