HOUSTON -- Arizona slugger Luis Gonzalez will have
season-ending ligament replacement surgery Monday, but expects to
return to the Diamondbacks by next spring.
The left fielder has played all season with a partially torn
ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, feeling pain on every
throw to the infield. The ligament connects bones in the upper and
Team orthopedists will perform Tommy John surgery in Phoenix on
an off-day for the team.
"It's kind of a relief mentally now that I know the date and
that it's going to get done," Gonzalez said before Thursday's game
Head trainer Paul Lessard said it was possible for position
players to recover from the surgery within four to six months,
compared with 12 to 16 months for pitchers.
"That's the large unknown," Lessard said. "We think it could
be an eight-month program. Hopefully he'll be ready by the end of
Lessard said an MRI in the spring revealed a 50 percent tear of
the ligament. No further examination was done, but Lessard guessed
the ligament was damaged further while his staff tried to help
Gonzalez get by with strengthening exercises and ice.
Gonzalez, hitting .264 with 17 homers and 46 RBI, will miss a
chance at his sixth consecutive year with 100 RBI. He plans to
play until he has the operation, though, with his last game of the
season coming Sunday at Colorado.
It will be the end of what the 36-year-old Gonzalez has called
the toughest season of his career.
The Diamondbacks (32-71) have the worst record in the majors,
recently ending a 14-game losing streak in Houston that was the
longest in franchise history. The last two weeks have been
complicated by the swirl of trade rumors involving All-Star pitcher
Randy Johnson and veteran center fielder Steve Finley.
"The speculation, the 14-game losing streak ... as an older
player, you just want to win," Gonzalez said. "Right now, I know
that it's important for me to try get healthy for next season."