Tommy John surgery expected soon for Yanks' Pavano

Updated: May 24, 2007, 6:20 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Carl Pavano is headed for reconstructive elbow surgery, probably ending his unproductive stint with the New York Yankees and making his contract a $40 million bust.

After being examined by four doctors over the past few weeks, Pavano met Wednesday with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to go over all the medical documents. Pavano's agent, Gregg Clifton, said the pitcher will have the operation.

Carl Pavano

Pavano

"All four doctors conclude that he has a damaged ligament and recommend Tommy John surgery," Cashman said.

"We're looking at the realistic possibility that he won't pitch for us anymore."

The right-hander will be sidelined for most if not all of what remains on his $39.95 million, four-year deal, which runs through 2008.

"The time is not on our side, obviously, for him to get totally recovered," Cashman said. "Is it possible? Outside possibility the second half of next year, but everything would have to go right.

"It's unfortunate, it really is. When we signed him we had high expectations."

Cashman said Pavano has a tear in his elbow ligament.

"Some of the doctors say it's possible that, he's gone through rest and therapy and a throwing program, it's possible to try that again. But there's some risks that can go with that. You could do further damage to the elbow," Cashman said.

Clifton said Dr. James Andrews will operate soon.

"Now that the parties have had an opportunity to discuss this together, they've come to the conclusion surgery is Carl's only option," Clifton said. "We will attempt to schedule surgery as quickly as possible with Dr. Andrews. We hope to have a date for surgery by Thursday, once we have an opportunity to confer with Dr. Andrews and his scheduling team."

While two of the doctors said a conservative rehabilitation program could be tried, which could entail risk of additional damage, the Yankees left the decision up to Pavano, Yankees president Randy Levine said.

Pavano hasn't pitched since April 9. He saw Yankees physician Dr. Stuart Hershon, New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek, Los Angeles Angels medical director Dr. Lewis Yocum and Andrews.

It remained unclear whether the ligament was fully or partially torn.

"Tears don't heal on their own, but the good news is in this day and age, there is a way and an ability to correct the tear and give Carl the opportunity to resume his career," Clifton said.

A free-agent flop since signing with the Yankees before the 2005 season, Pavano is 5-7 in 19 starts, including 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA in two starts this year. He was sidelined from June 27, 2005, through the 2006 season by shoulder, back, elbow and rib injuries, then returned this year. He felt forearm soreness during a win at Minnesota on April 9, an injury the Yankees didn't originally think was serious.

Cashman said he's seen all the medical records on Pavano the past three years, and all his injuries have been legitimate.

"I never once thought that he laid down on this club," Cashman said.

"I had high hopes for Carl to be a stabilizer, a solid No. 3 at worst," Cashman added, according to The New York Times. "It just hasn't happened. The reasons he hasn't pitched have been physical every step of the way. Those are the facts."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

ALSO SEE