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Johnson given choice: surgery or long rehab

University of Florida team physician Pete Indelicato told Gators quarterback Doug Johnson on Tuesday that he must have arthroscopic surgery on his sore right shoulder or face 6-8 weeks of rehabilitation.

Johnson, also a third baseman in the Devil Rays minor-league system, said he will wait a few days before making that decision.

"It's time for thought and prayer," Johnson said through UF. "I hope that people understand how hard this is on me and my family and that they give us the time and space to make the right decision."

Rays team doctor Koco Eaton, who examined Johnson in late April, endorsed Indelicato's recommendations and said he expects Johnson to be fully recovered by football season.

"This is not a career-threatening injury," Eaton said.

Johnson's baseball adviser, Mark Rodgers, said it's "probably unlikely" Johnson will play in the Rays minor-league system this season. "No matter what decision he makes, there's no guarantee that he would play baseball this year," Rodgers said.

Indelicato said through UF that he examined Johnson and spent about an hour with him discussing his shoulder. "I believe that Doug has a complete appreciation of his injured shoulder and what treatment options are available," he said.

The exam was Johnson's second with a specialist in as many days. On Monday he traveled to Birmingham, Ala., to be examined by highly respected orthopedic specialist James Andrews, a member of the Rays medical staff. Andrews did not recommend immediate surgery.

What remains a mystery is precisely what Johnson's problem is. His aching shoulder became a concern in the spring after he played in UF's Orange and Blue game. He began complaining of "ongoing" shoulder pain.

Eaton confirmed that he discovered a cyst on the right shoulder bone but said it was not a problem. None of the four doctors who have examined Johnson has stated a specific cause of the pain.

"As some people know, my shoulder has bothered me for a long time," Johnson said Tuesday.

"I thought it was just normal soreness. It's pretty clear now that I have had more than just a sore shoulder."

As a sophomore, Johnson started seven games for the Gators and threw 21 TDs and 12 interceptions. In the regular season he completed 148 of 269 passes for 2,023 yards.

Drafted by the Rays in 1996, Johnson has hit .215 with five home runs and 28 RBI in two seasons (62 games).

_ Correspondent Mark Long contributed to this report.

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