Marlins' Johnson undergoes Tommy John surgery, out through '08

MIAMI -- Florida Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson underwent
elbow surgery on Friday and likely will be sidelined through the 2008

Johnson underwent ligament replacement, known as Tommy John
surgery. He is expected to be out 12 to 18 months. The surgery was
performed by specialist Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.

"From what I've been told and what I've experienced, it seems
the relievers can return in a year but starters need that extra
three months or so,'' Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Saturday.
"So you're looking at spring training '09 for Josh.''

Johnson pitched only 15 2/3 innings this season and went 0-3
with a 7.47 ERA.

Johnson's arm first bothered him last September. His most recent
attempt to come back ended when he complained of elbow stiffness
the day after a three-inning rehabilitation start last week for
Class-A Jupiter.

Johnson went 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA in 2006 and finished fourth in
the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He spent the first 2½ months of
this season on the disabled list because of an irritated ulnar
nerve in his right elbow, then made only four starts before he was
again sidelined by forearm stiffness.

"I think he'll be fine once he gets that rehab stuff out of the
way,'' Gonzalez said. "You see guys who underwent Tommy John
surgery, they come back and pitch better.''

Johnson is one of three second-year Florida starters sidelined
this year by injury. Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco each
won at least 10 games as rookies in 2006, but this year they're a
combined 3-6 in 67 innings.