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John Lackey to have Tommy John surgery

In this Aug. 30, 2011 file photo, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey delivers to the New York Yankees during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
In this Aug. 30, 2011 file photo, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey delivers to the New York Yankees during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

(CBS/AP) A miserable year for Red Sox starter John Lackey just got worse.

Lackey will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2012 season, Boston's new GM Ben Cherington announced Tuesday.

Photos: Players who have had Tommy John surgery

It's the latest setback for a once-elite pitcher who had major issues on and off the field in 2011. He was 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA in the second year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract. To make matters worse, the Boston Globe reported that he and fellow starters Josh Beckett and Jon Lester drank beer and ate fried chicken in the clubhouse during games in which they were not pitching.

As if that wasn't enough, Lackey filed for divorce late in the season. His wife has breast cancer.

"Everything in my life sucks right now, to be honest with you," Lackey declared after another terrible start in May.

When announcing Lackey's reconstructive elbow surgery, Cherington praised the pitcher for playing through adversity.

"John Lackey pitched through circumstances this year that I don't think any of us in this room can fully understand," Cherington said, "and he got beat up for it a little bit along the way. This guy was dealing with some stuff both on the field and off the field that were really difficult. I thought he showed tremendous toughness pitching through that."

Fortunately for Lackey, Tommy John surgery has a high success rate. Washington Nationals' phenom Stephen Starsburg had the surgery last year and came back strong this September.

When Dr. Frank Jobe performed the first such surgery on Tommy John in 1974, he put the Dodger pitcher's chances of complete recovery at 1 in 100.

Since then, dozens of major leaguers have had the surgery, and chances of a successful recovery now hover closer to 90 percent, according to Dr. Michael Reinold, a rehabilitation coordinator for the Boston Red Sox.

The usual rehabilitation period from the surgery is at least 12 months.

Considering the brutal year Lackey just endured, maybe the time off will do him some good.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com