Devine out for season after surgery

Devine out for season after surgery

NEW YORK -- A's right-hander Joey Devine underwent elbow surgery Tuesday and will miss the 2009 season.

Devine, 25, posted a 0.59 ERA in 42 appearances last season and was expected to share the closer role with fellow righty Brad Ziegler, but he was sidelined for most of Spring Training with elbow pain. Shut down after posting an 8.10 ERA in four spring games, Devine was placed on the 60-day disabled list when the A's announced their 25-man roster before Opening Night.

As his club took batting practice before its first game at the new Yankee Stadium, A's manager Bob Geren said the surgery was performed in Birmingham, Ala., by Dr. James Andrews. The procedure focused on Devine's ulnar collateral ligament, and as of late Tuesday afternoon the A's did not know if the ligament was repaired or replaced.

If it had been repaired, Devine could have been be ready for Spring Training 2010, but MLB.com learned that the ligment was replaced. That procedure involves taking a ligament from elsewhere in the body -- it's commonly known as "Tommy John surgery" -- and comes with a full 12 months (or more) of rehab for pitchers, so it's possible that Devine won't be ready for the start of next season.

Geren, who has used Ziegler exclusively in save situations so far this season, has said he'll use Russ Springer and Santiago Casilla -- depending on matchups -- whenever Ziegler is unavailable, but Michael Wuertz and rookie Andrew Bailey each had a 0.00 ERA through Monday and also might see a save opportunity here and there.

The opener of a scheduled three-game series in New York was postponed by rain Monday, and heading into Tuesday's game A's relievers were a combined 4-2 with a 2.72 ERA.

"Our bullpen's been doing a nice job," Geren said. "It's always stronger with a healthy Joey Devine ... but we really like what we have down there, and we have the kind of versatility and talent that's going to allow us to mix and match whenever certain situations come up."

Acquired in the January 2008 trade that sent Mark Kotsay to the Braves, Devine was Atlanta's first-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. His ERA in 2008 was the lowest in Major League history for a pitcher with at least 25 innings in a season. He struck out 49 with 15 walks and did not allow a home run over 45 2/3 innings.

"It's obviously a blow when you lose someone as good as Joey, and more than anything you feel bad for him," Geren said. "Fortunately, he's a young guy, and in Dr. Andrews he's got one of the best guys in the world at what he does. Hopefully he has a smooth recovery and gets back to where he was before he got hurt."

Devine did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.