SAN DIEGO -- Brewers first baseman Mat Gamel needs surgery for a torn ligament in his right knee and will miss a significant amount of the remaining regular season, general manager Doug Melvin confirmed on Wednesday.
Gamel was hurt chasing a foul popup in Tuesday's loss to the Padres at Petco Park and underwent an MRI scan after the game. His right leg was completely immobilized and Gamel moved about the clubhouse on crutches Wednesday afternoon before traveling to Milwaukee to meet with the Brewers' head physician. Dr. William Raasch will set a timetable for surgery.
Melvin and other Brewers officials stopped short of declaring Gamel lost for the season, with Melvin saying only that, "we're anticipating long term." Right-hander Yovani Gallardo tore his ACL on the same date in 2008 and wound up returning to the mound in the final week of the regular season, then started Game 1 of that year's National League Division Series against the Phillies.
"[Gamel] waited for his chance and his opportunity, and now ..." Melvin said, leaving that thought unfinished. "That's what's tough about it. This year was a big year for him."
Gamel spoke only briefly to reporters before departing for his flight. Immediately after taking his tumble Tuesday, he thought he was OK. Gamel finished the first inning and briefly stepped on deck in the top of the second, only to return to the dugout after one tentative swing.
"I knew that I couldn't go," he said. "It stinks."
Gamel has dealt with bad breaks before. He was injured in three consecutive Spring Trainings before reporting to camp in 2012 in terrific shape, committed to taking over first base for Milwaukee. Melvin made clear that Monday's injury fell into the category of accidental and not preventative.
"I play the game hard, man," Gamel said. "Unfortunately, when you play the game hard, sometimes you've got to pay."
Gamel's teammates expressed disappointment upon learning of his tough break.
"I was praying for him as soon as it happened, praying for him last night, praying for him this morning for it to be as good of news as possible, and obviously it wasn't," said Travis Ishikawa, who becomes the Brewers' primary first baseman with Gamel out. "I'll continue to pray for him that his recovery is 100 percent and speedy."
Said right fielder Corey Hart: "You feel for him. It's a big year. He finally got a chance, and it was cut short."