Mets' Wagner probably out through '09

The Baltimore Sun

New York Mets closer Billy Wagner needs elbow surgery that likely will sideline him through the 2009 season.

The five-time All-Star has been out since Aug. 3, and the Mets said yesterday that he has a torn medial collateral ligament in his left elbow and a torn flexor pronator, which is a muscle in the forearm. The left-hander, 37, will have surgery this week.

"The tear is now big enough that the doctors are recommending so-called Tommy John surgery," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said.

When the Mets first put Wagner on the disabled list Aug. 5, they announced his injury as a strained left forearm. Minaya said yesterday that a magnetic resonance imaging that day revealed the tear but that Wagner and the team thought there was a chance he could pitch through it.

Wagner is owed $10.5 million next year, the final guaranteed season in a four-year, $43 million contract with the Mets, and the team holds an $8 million option for 2010 with a $1 million buyout. Minaya thought there was a chance Wagner could return next September.

While Wagner has repeatedly said he intended to retire when this contract concludes, Minaya wasn't certain that would be the case.

Luis Ayala, acquired from the Washington Nationals last month, is 5-for-6 in save tries for the Mets.

Brawl: : Yankees catcher Ivan Rodriguez took an open-handed swing at Torii Hunter after getting shoved in the back by the Angels star, and both players were ejected after a bench-clearing scuffle between the teams last night. Moments later, after the game resumed, New York pitching coach Dave Eiland was helped to his feet in the dugout by teammates and escorted by a trainer up the runway toward the clubhouse. Eiland, 42, was in the middle of the tussle as players pushed and shoved each other near home plate. Replays showed someone's hand scraping across Eiland's face, but he did not appear to be hit by a punch or knocked down.

More Yankees:: The team plans to retain Joe Girardi as manager next year. "Joe will be back," co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said at the club's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla. "He's done everything he could." Girardi is in his first season managing the Yankees after agreeing to a three-year contract in October. The team is likely to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993. New York has been hit hard by injuries. Still to be resolved is who the general manager will be in 2009. Brian Cashman's contract is up this year, and Steinbrenner said discussions on a possible extension will take place after the season.

More Red Sox: : Right fielder J.D. Drew was activated from the 15-day DL. Drew, out since Aug. 18 with a strained lower back, was hitting .280 with 19 homers and 64 RBIs before the injury.

Cardinals: : With Chris Carpenter limited to relief duty the rest of the season, St. Louis might be calling on its ace to get the final outs. Whenever Carpenter is available, manager Tony La Russa said, the 2005 NL Cy Young winner will be his first choice as the closer. Carpenter injured his shoulder in his third start of the season and returned in late July.

Et cetera: : Angels right-hander Jered Weaver was scratched from his scheduled start against the Yankees because of cuts on the middle and ring fingers of his pitching hand. Weaver was scratched Friday against the White Sox for the same reason. ... Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson will likely miss the rest of the season with a hairline fracture in his right index finger. ... Don Gutteridge, who played for four major league teams and managed the White Sox in 1969 and 1970, died at his home Sunday in Pittsburg, Kan. He was 96.

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