Season-ending surgery possible for Dodgers closer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne
went on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a sprained ligament
in his right elbow, the same problem that sidelined him the first
35 games of the season.

The All-Star didn't know if he would need surgery, but
acknowledged he was feeling "very nervous" and preparing for the

"I always do. I always get ready for the worst and if it's
better than that, you're happy," Gagne said.

He will undergo a second MRI in Los Angeles and be examined by
Dodgers team doctor Frank Jobe.

"Dr. Jobe is the best in the world. I want him to look at me
and they want him to look at me," he said.

After an MRI exam on Monday, Royals doctor Dr. Steven Joyce
concluded Gagne sustained a second-degree sprain of the ulnar
collateral ligament.

"Frank looked at the MRI that was sent to him and Frank sees
the exact same thing that Dr. Joyce diagnosed," Dodgers manager
Jim Tracy said.

"So the plan will be for Eric to get with Frank next Tuesday
... and if there's any residual swelling that's still sitting
there, to get as much or all of it out. We'll have another MRI on
Tuesday to find out exactly where the situation stands."

Gagne aggravated the injury while pitching against Minnesota on
Sunday. Tracy refused to speculate on how long he could be out.

"We're not going to talk about that until [Jobe] sees him. He's
just looked at the MRI. He hasn't seen the patient."

Gagne, who owns the major league record of 84 consecutive saves,
landed on the disabled list for the first time in his seven-year
major league career on April 1 when he hurt his elbow, possibly
while compensating for a knee injury sustained during spring
training. It was the same elbow that underwent ligament replacement
surgery in 1997.

He was replaced on the roster by right-hander Elmer Dessens, who
was activated from the 15-day DL on Wednesday.

After returning on May 14, Gagne was 1-0 with eight saves and a
2.70 ERA in 13 1/3 innings. Dating back to last Aug. 28, he has
converted 18 consecutive save opportunities.

Gagne won the NL Cy Young Award in 2003 with a club-record 55
saves and 1.20 ERA. He agreed to a two-year, $19-million contract
in the offseason after recording 152 saves and averaging 122
strikeouts during his first three seasons as a closer.

Buddy Bell, whose Royals had two interleague games left against
Los Angeles, agreed that any opponent would feel fortunate not
having to face Gagne.

"Gagne might be the best closer in the game so, yeah, you feel
lucky you don't have to face him in that situation," Bell said.

"But at the same time they have very capable people down there
that can kind of pick up the slack for a couple of days. If you
lose a guy like that for the long haul, I think it's really going
to affect you."