OAKLAND, Calif. (WFAN/AP) — Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome right elbow next week, likely ending his season.
The Yankees said Thursday night Gardner would have inflamed tissue removed in a procedure that will be performed by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad. The date of his surgery wasn't yet known. Gardner had an MRI earlier this week after a third setback in his recovery from an elbow strain that has sidelined him since April 18. The Yankees, in making the announcement about an hour before the first pitch against Oakland at the Coliseum, said he wasn't expected to play again in 2012.
"We're going to get it cleared up and get him back on track so he can help us next year," manager Joe Girardi said after a 4-3 loss to the Athletics on Thursday night.
"He's a guy that helps us a lot," he added. "We've managed to amass this record without him for most of the year and we're going to have to do it. I wish he was coming back and I wish we had his speed element, but we're not going to have it. We're going to have to figure out how to do it without him."
Ahmad had been set to consult on the results with Dr. James Andrews and Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek. Girardi said before the game he was prepared to go the rest of the year without Gardner.
"That's kind of what you do. Until someone's back, you really can't say, 'We're counting on this guy,'" Girardi said. "It's unfortunate because I think we've missed some of the things that he brings to our club. He's had a couple of different setbacks and I think you have to proceed that, if you were to get him, it wouldn't be until at least September."
The left-handed Gardner was injured making a diving catch in a home game against the Minnesota Twins on April 17. He cut short two minor league rehab assignments because of discomfort in his non-throwing arm.
Nick Swisher spoke to Gardner late Thursday.
"That was a big deal. He's the spark plug," Swisher said. "He has the ability to lead the league in stolen bases. It's tough to replace a world class speed guy. Nobody likes losing a teammate. You call this year a wash and just wish him the best to get healthy. We have to pull it together. I think the guys have done a great job. We have guys who are capable."
Gardner batted .321 with three RBIs in nine games in his shortened fifth season with the Yankees. Raul Ibanez is hitting .242 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs as the regular left fielder for New York playing in Gardner's place.
The 28-year-old Gardner played in 159 games last season and stole an American League-best 49 bases, his second straight year with 40 or more steals.
"Those times where it's hard to create runs, he's the one guy that can do a lot of that," Girardi said. "He puts a lot of pressure on the defense. His defense is outstanding out there. But you look at the numbers that those guys have put up, it's just a different game. It's nice sometimes to have that speed. We're not a club that's going to steal a lot of bases at this point, especially without Gardy and (Eduardo Nunez) Nuney's not here. We're a little different club."
Also, Girardi called the reports on reliever Joba Chamberlain's progress back from an ankle injury "very positive." He is scheduled to throw for a fourth time with the Gulf Coast Yankees on Friday.
Chamberlain tore a ligament and dislocated his ankle jumping on a trampoline with his son in March, but is expected to return this year. The right-hander is also coming off elbow ligament replacement surgery.
Still, Girardi isn't putting a timetable on when he might be ready — not until he works back-to-back days.
"I think once we get him going back to back, I think you'll have a better idea. You want to see how he responds the second day," Girardi said. "Those 30 days are ticking. I don't think (consecutive days) would be the last test. Let's let the powers that be make that decision."
The Yankees have cruised without Gardner so far, but how will his absence affect the team during the stretch run? Be heard in the comments below...
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