Tommy John surgery set for pitcher John Lackey: What is it?

John Lackey of the Boston Red Sox underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 2012.

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John Lackey #41 of the Boston Red Sox throws a pitch during the bottom of the first inning against the New York Yankees on September 25, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.
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(CBS) Tommy John Surgery will shelve Red Sox pitcher John Lackey for the entire 2012 season, the team announced Tuesday.

PICTURES: Tommy John surgery: Who's had it?

The right-hander, who was awarded a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Sox in 2010, opted for the procedure following a down year in which he registered some of the worst numbers of his career, leading baseball by giving up 114 earned runs, CBS Sports reported.

"He had some intermittent elbow soreness throughout the season," Boston's GM, Ben Cherington, said at a press conference. "John has decided to go ahead with Tommy John surgery. We're waiting on a surgery date, but I talked to him the other day, and he's really excited about the future, certainly anxious about the surgery and getting that done and the rehab."

The surgery is named after left-handed pitcher Tommy John, who in 1974 became the first pro athlete to successfully undergo it. It uses tendons from elsewhere in the body to repair damage to the ulnar collateral (elbow) ligament. It can save careers but recovery time usually lasts at least 12 to 15 months, CBS News reported.

Lackey isn't the only Red Sox pitcher to undergo Tommy John in 2011 - right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will likely sit out the half of the 2012 season while recovering from the procedure he underwent in June.

What other big league pitchers had Tommy John surgery through the years? Keep clicking to find out...