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The closer teams get to opening day, the more they merely want to stay healthy. No such luck Monday for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals.

The Dodgers learned first baseman Eric Karros will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee today and be sidelined from three to six weeks. Karros, 30, hit 31 home runs with 104 RBIs last year. The injury will end his streak of playing 267 consecutive games.

The Royals found out ace Kevin Appier, one of baseball's most durable starting pitchers this decade, will undergo arthroscopic surgery today to repair a tear in his right shoulder. An MRI on Monday revealed the problem, and his status for 1998 will be determined after the operation.

Appier, 104-78 with a 3.30 ERA lifetime, had offseason surgery after hurting his shoulder in a fall on the porch steps of his home while carrying gifts from his sister's baby shower.

The Cardinals shut down new closer Jeff Brantley for a few days after he was tagged by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for five runs and five hits in only one-third of an inning Sunday. He's suffering from a sore forearm.

Brantley, tied for the NL lead in saves in 1996, missed most of the 1997 season because of a shoulder injury.

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