Notes: Gallardo to have knee surgery

Notes: Gallardo to have surgery

PHOENIX -- Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, but a team official called it a relatively routine fix that shouldn't prevent Gallardo from competing for a spot in the starting rotation.

Gallardo, who won't turn 23 until Feb. 27 and is one of the National League's most promising young pitchers, tweaked his knee in a mound session before reporting to Maryvale Baseball Park last week. He underwent an MRI scan on Saturday that confirmed a lateral meniscus tear.

Dr. William Raasch will scope Gallardo's knee on Tuesday in Milwaukee. If all goes well, Gallardo will be back to competitive form in four weeks, assistant general manager Gord Ash said.

"I don't think it's common, but it is an athletic injury and it is a relatively routine procedure and routine recovery time," said Ash, who heads the organization's medical program. "As with any medical condition, everybody is different, but we're guessing right now that, depending on how he handles the surgery and how much swelling there is, that he should be back participating in a month.

"That puts us at the middle of March. We're going to be touch-and-go to start the season, but we'll see."

The Brewers closed the clubhouse for physicals on Sunday, so Gallardo was not available to reporters.

Ash reported two other medical updates on Sunday afternoon. Catcher Lou Palmisano suffered precisely the same injury as Gallardo's during a bullpen session in Phoenix last week and will undergo an MRI scan on Monday. At that time, Raasch will determine whether surgery is necessary. Also, the Brewers expect non-roster invitee Mark DiFelice, a right-hander, to be sidelined for the next two weeks because he has been slow to recover from a right knee injury. DiFelice underwent microfracture surgery in December and will undergo more tests on Monday to measure the strength in the joint.

Gallardo earned a May promotion to Milwaukee after going 8-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 13 starts for Triple-A Nashville. In the Majors, he went 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 20 appearances, 17 of them starts, and pitched 21 consecutive scoreless innings at one point in September.

Before Sunday's bad news, Gallardo was presumed to have an edge for a spot in the starting rotation along with Ben Sheets and Jeff Suppan, but Brewers manager Ned Yost bristled earlier in the day at questions about the rest of his starting rotation. The team came to camp with eight candidates for the five spots, and Yost said all eight would prepare as if they would break camp in the starting rotation.

"We'll have eight guys ready," Yost said. "What if something happens? What if somebody gets hurt? What if somebody tweaks a knee or gets tendinitis in his elbow?"

Turns out that tweaked knee already belonged to Gallardo.

In addition to Gallardo, Sheets and Suppan, right-handers Dave Bush, Claudio Vargas and Carlos Villanueva and left-handers Chris Capuano and Manny Parra will get a look for the rotation.

Some of those pitchers could also garner consideration for a bullpen role. Bush, Capuano, Gallardo, Parra and Villanueva all have Minor League options remaining, according to Ash.

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Inside track: Yost spoke highly of both Bush and Capuano on Sunday, brushing off Bush's high ERA last season and Capuano's winless streak from May through the end of the year.

"I have a lot of respect for Chris Capuano and Dave Bush, because not only are they great competitors, but their work ethic is unparalleled," Yost said. "They both prepare themselves physically and mentally for each start. They do their homework. They are exactly what you want a starting pitcher to be.

"But this is a performance-based game. There are a lot of people I 'like,' but they have to be able to perform."

Yost conceded that "history" and "experience" figure heavily into Spring Training decisions. Bush tied for the team lead in wins in each of the last two seasons, and his 24 wins over that span led all Brewers. Capuano won 18 games in 2005 and made the 2006 All-Star team before a frustrating 2007, in which he lost his spot in the rotation.

Injuries could play a role in the team's decisions, Yost stressed. Cactus League games will also figure in, but only to a degree.

"It's hard to judge solely on Spring Training performances, and, come on, we're not going to do that," Yost said.

The Kid in camp: Hall of Famer Robin Yount is expected to have a strong presence in camp this year and, along with first-base coach and outfield instructor Ed Sedar, will work with Ryan Braun on the transition to left field. Yount, who won American League MVP Awards both as a shortstop and a center fielder, was the Brewers' bench coach in 2006 but left after the season, citing family concerns.

Another former Brewers center fielder, Gorman Thomas, is also expected to make an appearance.

On deck: Brewers pitchers and catchers will take part in the first formal workout of the year on Monday. A number of position players are in camp early and will also participate. Ash said the Brewers may borrow a catcher or two from Minor League camp to handle pitchers' throwing sessions.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.