Left-hander Jose Quintana won't make his New York Mets debut until at least July because of a stress fracture in his rib.
The Mets are relieved that the prognosis wasn't even more severe.
Mets general manager Billy Eppler told reporters Tuesday a scan revealed a lesion on the impacted rib. Quintana went to New York to visit an orthopedic tumor specialist for a biopsy and additional scans that revealed the lesion was benign.
"This was bigger than baseball," Eppler said. "José's got our support and anything he needs. I'm just really thankful we're at least here as opposed to one of the other potential outcomes."
Eppler said Quintana will have an operation Friday in New York that involves a bone graft. Eppler said recovery from the surgery will keep Quintana out until at least July 1 but didn't offer any specifics beyond that.
"A lot will depend on if José, how soon he can do physical activity, how much down time does he need after this procedure," Eppler said. "Does he need to take a week, or 10 days or two weeks before he can run. Because it's a fairly involved surgery. Whenever you're doing a bone graft, it's going to hurt. That's why it's hard to set a specific timetable."
The 34-year-old Quintana signed a $26 million, two-year contract with the Mets in December after going 6-7 with a 2.93 ERA in 32 starts with Pittsburgh and St. Louis last season. He is 89-87 with a 3.75 ERA.
Candidates to fill Quintana's rotation spot include left-hander David Peterson and right-hander Tylor Megill. Peterson, 27, went 7-5 with a 3.83 ERA last season in 28 appearances, including 19 starts. Megill, also 27, was 4-2 with a 5.13 ERA in 15 games, including nine starts.
Peterson has struck out nine in eight shutout innings this spring training. Megill has worked 8 1/3 innings and has a 1.08 ERA with six strikeouts.
"Obviously it sucks to see one of your teammates go down with that, and I hope he gets back as quick as he can and healthy for the most part," Peterson told reporters after he threw four hitless innings Tuesday. "But I think that has been kind of the thing all along. The front office and the coaching staff have wanted to have starting pitching depth. They made it a priority. So I guess this is kind of where it comes in handy, to have guys to choose from."