Brett Gardner needs surgery, will likely miss rest of season
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Brett Gardner's season is all but over.
The Yankees announced before Thursday night's game that the leftfielder, on the disabled list since April 18 with a strained right elbow and bone bruise, would undergo arthroscopic surgery next week to "remove inflamed tissue from his right elbow."
Team physician Christopher Ahmad will perform the surgery and the team said the procedure will "most likely conclude" Gardner's season.
That didn't come as a complete surprise to the Yankees who, for several weeks, had been proceeding as if they'd be without Gardner, stepping up their efforts to secure outfield depth in advance of the trade deadline.
"It's definitely safe to say we're looking" for outfield help, one organization talent evaluator said.
But the Yankees, with baseball's best record, don't feel compelled to make a move, not with the production they've gotten from Raul Ibañez, Andruw Jones and Dewayne Wise.
And, with what one opposing team scout called a "thin" outfield market, it remains to be seen if anything can be done within reason and without considerable cost.
General manager Brian Cashman said Sunday he believes the Yankees, as constituted, are a "championship caliber" team, therefore putting him in a position of strength before the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of the month.
Still, there is organizational concern regarding Ibañez, 40, and Jones, 35, and the unexpected amount of time they've spent in the field since Gardner went on the DL.
To this point, neither has shown any concessions to age and, as Joe Girardi said, with the number of lefthanders the Yankees see, he hasn't had to start Ibañez in the field four, five or six straight days (Jones typically starts against lefties).
"This is a rare stretch where we're seeing six out of seven righthanders," Girardi said before Thursday night's game against the A's. "I'll watch Raul a little bit in that time."
Ibañez came into Thursday night's start in left hitting .242 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. Jones entered hitting .241 with 12 homers and 26 RBIs. Both have seen time as designated hitter in addition to playing left.
"They've done a good job," Girardi said. "We do miss that speed element that Brett brought to the game, but I've been pleased with what these guys have done."
Gardner's rehab comprised mostly frustration, most recently Sunday during a three-inning simulated game in Tampa, Fla.
Gardner's agent, Joe Bick, said Monday his client woke up earlier that morning in pain and would be sent for another MRI Tuesday. Those results were evaluated by Dr. Ahmad, as well as two of the country's top orthopedic surgeons, Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Timothy Kremchek.
Speaking before the announcement of Gardner's surgery, Girardi said "that's kind of what you do," when asked if he was assuming he wouldn't have Gardner at all.
"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."
And will miss, it appears, for the rest of 2012.