CINCINNATI — Reds right-hander Edinson Volquez is expected to miss the rest of this season and the first half of next year, too, after having reconstructive elbow surgery Monday, another major setback for fading Cincinnati.
Volquez had surgery to replace a torn ligament and repair other damage in his right elbow, which has sidelined him for the past two months. The typical recovery time is 12 months.
"It's not good news," Reds Manager Dusty Baker said. "It sure hurts your heart."
It hurts the Reds in a lot of ways.
They got Volquez from Texas for Josh Hamilton before the 2008 season. The trade worked out fantastically for both teams — Hamilton and Volquez both made the All-Star Game last year. Volquez quickly became the Reds' top starter, going 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA.
He also threw a career-high 196 innings, far more than he'd ever thrown in a season. The Reds were concerned about his decision to play winter baseball and participate in the World Baseball Classic. Baker said during spring training that he worried about the stress on pitchers' arms when they played in the WBC.
"This is something I was afraid of — not only for us but for other teams," Baker said.
Baker, however, said there was no proof that Volquez's workload was responsible for the injury.
"Again, I can't say that's the reason," Baker said.
Volquez, 26, went 4-2 with a 4.35 ERA in nine starts before his elbow began bothering him. He went on the disabled list June 2 and was working his way back toward reinstatement when he had a setback last week. He threw 76 pitches in the bullpen without a problem Monday, then he threw again onWednesday.
He was throwing in a simulated game Friday when he felt tightness in the elbow and had to stop, setting him on course for surgery.
Pitching Coach Dick Pole was surprised Volquez needed the operation.
"I thought he was coming along really good with the side (bullpen session) and he wasn't feeling any pain," Pole told MLB.com. "The day he had hitters up there, he exerted himself a little more, and the pain came back."
Volquez is the sixth Reds player to have surgery this season. Cincinnati currently has nine players on the disabled list, contributing to a July free fall that has dropped them out of contention in the NL Central.
"He will come back, I think, and pitch at some point next year in the second half," head trainer Mark Mann told MLB.com. "But it will most likely be 2011 before you see the old Edinson Volquez."