Brett Myers says he needs surgery on his ailing right hip. The question is: Should he have an operation that could jeopardize his season now, or wait until the off-season?
After having an MRI exam yesterday, the 28-year-old Phillies righthander was told by the team's medical staff that there was fraying and a possible tear of the labrum in his hip.
Myers said that while the Phillies' doctors told him the injury would likely require surgery, he would see a hip specialist before making his decision.
"I don't know what I am going to do," Myers told The Inquirer. "First I am going to get a second opinion. . . . I am going to explore every option I need to to keep pitching, but if he tells me, 'It's over, you need to have [surgery] now or you could cause damage,' I will have it. I have to. It's a no-brainer.
"If he tells me rehab and anti-inflammatory medicine will take care of it, I'll pitch through it."
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. added in a statement: "It is possible that Brett will not make his next start. That decision as well as any decision on a possible DL stint or surgery will be determined at a later date."
Either way, surgery seemed inevitable.
"From what I gather from our team doctor and our head trainer, surgery will happen at some point, whether it's now or after the season," Myers said. "This has been bothering me as long I can remember. I never knew what it was. It just became unpitchable this season."
Though the Phillies did not specify which hip specialist Myers would see, indications were that the team might send the pitcher to Bryan T. Kelly, the specialist from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York who performed second baseman Chase Utley's hip surgery in November.
"Once you get over being upset, reality sets in and you have to be realistic and make a decision," Myers said. "I'm trying to weed out the pros and cons of what I can do. But if this guy [Kelly] says, 'Have the surgery now,' I will. If I have surgery now, I hope to be back in September."
Myers left Wednesday night's game against Florida in the sixth inning with pain and inflammation in his hip. He said the hip had been bothering him for much of the season.
The injury could explain statistics that have not matched expectations this season. After a strong finish last year, Myers arrived at spring training about 30 pounds lighter and motivated to show more consistency than he had in the past.
Myers, who will be a free agent this winter, has said he wants to earn another contract with the Phillies.
"I'm not thinking about the future," he said yesterday. "I want to pitch this season."
Myers has allowed a major-league- leading 17 home runs in 632/3 innings this year, while posting a 4-3 record and 4.66 earned run average in 10 starts. The velocity of his fastball has also been lower than in the past, about 88 to 91 m.p.h., down from the low-to-mid-90s of late last season.
In addition to Utley, many prominent major-leaguers have undergone surgery to repair torn labrums in their hip lately, including New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado, Kansas City third baseman Alex Gordon, and Boston third baseman Mike Lowell.
The other operations provide clues to Myers' possible recovery time, though the specifics of his case are not yet known, and Myers, of course, is a pitcher.
Lowell and Utley had surgery in October and November, respectively, and have returned to full strength. Rodriguez's surgery occurred in March, and he returned May 8 and has played well since. Delgado and Gordon have yet to return from more recent surgery.