NEW YORK — It was the Braves’ worst fears realized but news they expected: Pitcher Brandon Beachy needs season-ending surgery for his torn elbow ligament.
The burgeoning ace will have ligament-transplant surgery (aka “Tommy John” surgery) Thursday, performed by Dr. James Andrews, the renowned specialist who examined his elbow and MRI results Wednesday to provide a second opinion on his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.
Rehabilitation from the surgery is typically 11-13 months.
“It’s a shame, but Dr. Andrews confirmed what our doctors saw,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We’re going to miss him.”
Beachy, 25, had emerged as an All-Star candidate after going 5-5 with a 2.00 ERA in his first 13 starts, tied for the National League ERA lead and leading the majors with a .171 opponents’ batting average.
“It’s tough,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “He was pitching well, really doing everything you could ask. Growing as a pitcher, growing in stature as a guy that you could really expect to shut the other team down.”
The Braves have recalled Jair Jurrjens from Triple-A Gwinnett to move into Beachy’s rotation spot, beginning with a start Friday night in an interleague series opener against the Red Sox in Boston. They hope Jurrjens pitches well enough in the next few starts to alleviate starting-rotation concerns, but Beachy’s injury could increase the likelihood of the Braves trading for a proven pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Braves top scout Jim Fregosi, a special assistant to Wren, was spotted at Cubs starter Matt Garza’s most recent start, and the Braves are believed to be among the six or more teams interested in the right-hander, who is making $9.5 million this season and has another year of arbitration eligibility in 2013 before he can be a free agent.
The Cubs also have made it known that veteran pitcher Ryan Dempster is available, though Dempster is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a lat strain and is eligible for free agency after the season.
Jurrjens was a 2011 All-Star, but his performance plummeted after the All-Star break and knee problems sidelined him for much of the second half of the season.
Jurrjens went 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA and .411 opponents’ average in four April starts before being sent to Gwinnett. He was 3-4 with a 5.18 ERA in 10 starts at there, including a one-inning tuneup appearance Tuesday.
“I think we get through the next few weeks leading up to when the trading season really begins,” Wren said, “and we evaluate what we have, how guys are throwing and who might be available.”
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