Glavine sure surgery is on docket
Veteran to visit Dr. Andrews next week with career up in air
ATLANTA -- Tom Glavine doesn't know if he'll pitch again. But the 300-game winner is quite certain he'll need to undergo elbow surgery after visiting Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., sometime next week.
"I would be surprised, if not shocked, if he doesn't tell me I need to get it [the elbow] fixed," Glavine said.
Based on the many discussions he's had with the Braves' medical staff, Glavine is confident this expected left elbow surgery would be to repair the torn flexor tendon found during an MRI exam in June. The 42-year-old hurler's understanding is that he would need three to four months of rehab, and he would then at least have the opportunity to choose whether he wants to pitch again next season.
If Andrews determines that Glavine needs to undergo the Tommy John elbow ligament transplant surgery that requires at least one year of rehab, the veteran hurler will retire without going through that surgical process.
"I wouldn't come back from that kind of surgery right now," Glavine said. "I'd fix the tendon and leave the ligament alone."
While the tendon surgery would likely allow Glavine to begin his normal preseason preparations in January, there is still no guarantee that he'll pitch again. He's said that he'll only pitch for Atlanta, and it's too early to assume he'll fit into general manager Frank Wren's plans for the 2009 season.
At the same time, Glavine doesn't definitively know that he'll want to pitch again next year, even if given the opportunity from both a health and employment standpoint.
When he signed a one-year, $8 million contract to return to the Braves this year, Glavine had experienced 21 Major League seasons without a trip to the disabled list. He's been disabled three times this season. The elbow, which could be repaired, has accounted for two of those trips.
"By no means do I want to go through another year going through what I've gone through this year," Glavine said. "But at the same time, I don't want my career to end this way, either."
When Glavine left Turner Field after allowing seven earned runs in just four innings against the Cubs on Thursday night, he knew the Braves were going to have to place him back on the 15-day disabled list.
The elbow discomfort he felt that night, and again on Friday morning, was nearly identical to the pain he was feeling before learning about the torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. The injury originally forced him to make an early exit from his June 10 start at Wrigley Field, and he remained on the disabled list until experiencing Thursday's disappointing return.
"It's going right down the same road it was before," Glavine said. "I know it's not going to get better [by just resting]. ... I need to fix it [to enjoy] the rest of my life, and I need to fix it if I want to pitch again next year."
While sidelined the past two months, Glavine's greatest fear was that he'd return and not encounter this setback until the final weeks of the season. Had that happened, the post-surgery rehab process would have likely prevented him being ready for the start of Spring Training next year.
Glavine has no desire to pitch again next year if he needs to begin the season behind his normal schedule.
"It's kind of a blessing that it happened right away," Glavine said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.