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No surgery yet for Johnson

Doug Johnson, the starting quarterback for the University of Florida and a third baseman in the Devil Rays system, was told Monday that surgery is not immediately necessary to treat his sore right shoulder.

Johnson, who has been suffering from ongoing shoulder pain since late April, was examined in Birmingham, Ala., by James Andrews, a member of the Devil Rays medical staff and one of the nation's leading orthopedic specialists.

"I am encouraged that Dr. Andrews did not recommend immediate surgery," Johnson said through UF. "According to Dr. Andrews, there may be alternatives to surgeries that we had not yet considered."

Added Mark Rodgers, Johnson's baseball adviser: "If your concern is only the UF football program and its well-being, you're encouraged by this news. There's potential that you could have both quarterbacks on the sidelines playing this fall."

Rays general manager Chuck LaMar said the plan is to wait on one more examination before action is taken. Johnson was to be examined today by UF physician Pete Indelicato.

"I think a course of action will be decided in the next couple of days," LaMar said. "He's been re-examined, and we are awaiting an examination with a UF (specialist). A decision is coming soon."

Said Johnson: "Hopefully, we can then discuss my alternatives and I can make a decision about the best course of action."

Although surgery for Johnson reportedly was a possibility, LaMar said no decision has been made along those lines.

"We're going to wait until everyone sees him, until all the opinions are together," LaMar said.

The news came eight days after Koco Eaton, another member of the Rays medical staff, examined Johnson and found a cyst on his right shoulder bone.

Reportedly injured in a 21-6 Florida victory over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, Johnson's shoulder became a concern in lateApril, after the Orange and Blue game, when Johnson complained of ongoing discomfort.

Johnson, a second-round pick in the 1996 draft, reported to the minor-league training camp this spring but was kept out of action while the Rays awaited further test results.

In two seasons with the Rays' organization, Johnson has hit a combined .215 with five home runs and 28 RBI in 62 games.

In 1997, his sophomore season with the Gators, Johnson started seven games and finished the regular season with 21 TDs and 12 interceptions. He completed 148 of 269 passes for 2,023 yards as the Gators finished the regular season 9-2.

"Any time you have a man like Dr. Andrews recommend a course of action other than surgery it's encouraging," Rodgers said. "Doug had been told, "surgery, surgery, surgery.' Now that a different course has been drawn out for him, I think he's a little apprehensive, but he is encouraged."

_ Staff writer Marc Topkin and Times correspondent Mark Long contributed to this report.

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