Ken Gurnick / MLB.com wrote:Furcal slated for back surgery
Dodgers star to miss at least eight weeks to repair bulging disc
HOUSTON -- Injured Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal waved the white flag Wednesday when it was announced he would undergo surgery Thursday for a bulging disc.
Dr. Robert Watkins will perform a microdiscectomy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure using microscopic magnification to remove all or part of a ruptured disc pressing on a nerve in Furcal's lower back.
Manager Joe Torre would not concede that Furcal will be lost for the rest of the season, but neither did he say he's holding his breath awaiting Furcal's return.
"From all the numbers I've heard, he'll probably miss a minimum of eight weeks," said Torre, meaning a return of September at the earliest.That's probably overly optimistic. Watkins performed a similar procedure in 2002 on Dodgers pitcher Kevin Brown, whose disc was badly ruptured. Brown rushed back after two months, but quickly had to shut it down because he was not fully healed. Reliever Eric Gagne underwent a similar operation by Watkins at St. Vincent's Hospital on July 8, 2006. Like Brown, Gagne was also trying to return from elbow woes at the time and did not pitch again that season.
Furcal will be a free agent after this season. He attempted to rehabilitate the injury twice this year, nearly beginning a Minor League assignment a month ago before a relapse. He then underwent a strenuous core exercise program in an attempt to avoid this surgery, but after one game at Triple-A Las Vegas this week, he woke up the next day in pain again.
"It's a blow," said Torre. "It's reality. I got a little tempted Monday when he ran out there with no hesitation, but he woke up sore the next day. From what I understand, he wants to get it done and over with and start getting better. We anticipate this will solve everything."
Well, not exactly everything, because it does nothing to solve the hole created two months ago when Furcal reinjured his lower back, which also cost him the final 12 games of the 2007 season.
The Dodgers have been shopping for shortstops ever since Furcal went down in early May, but the only move they made was a relatively inexpensive pickup of Kansas City Minor Leaguer Angel Berroa, who is hitting .183 and has yielded to rookie utilityman Luis Maza, who is hitting .239. General manager Ned Colletti figures to step up efforts to find an established shortstop, however a club official said nothing is imminent.
Torre hedged when asked if he thought the Dodgers had a solution within the organization, saying any acquisition must be judged by its cost. Chin-lung Hu was the original replacement for Furcal, but his bat was overmatched and now he's sidelined with an eye problem that has not been definitively diagnosed.
Torre said Nomar Garciaparra, currently on a rehab assignment with Las Vegas before he returns from a lingering calf muscle problem, will be a part-time solution at shortstop, where he was a five-time All-Star while with Boston.
"I'll look at Nomar at shortstop, but I'm not thinking on an everyday basis," said Torre. "It's not fair to Nomar, considering how long it's been."