MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins were hoping Josh Willingham would be able to avoid surgery on his injured left knee, which has hobbled their slugger for the last few weeks.
They found out after the Twins lost 7-3 to the New York Yankees on Tuesday night that Willingham will miss four to six weeks for an arthroscopic procedure to get him well, the latest in what is fast becoming a long line of disappointments for the Twins this season.
Willingham was placed on the 15-day disabled list and is scheduled to have surgery on his torn meniscus on Wednesday. and he said he will miss the next four to six weeks while recovering.
"We knew at some point, whether it be at the end of the year, that I was going to have my knee cleaned up," Willingham said after the game.
"What made sense this time was the timeframe that the bone bruise was going to take to heal. I was going to miss three weeks minimum for that, and that's three weeks recovering time."
Willingham also has a bone bruise on the knee, and team doctors told him it would take a minimum of two weeks, but likely closer to four, for that to heal.
Since he was already going to be on the disabled list, Willingham and the doctors felt the time was right to have the surgery as well to repair a meniscus tear that had grown bigger in recent days.
"I could have rehabbed the bone bruise and come back and played and maybe been fine, I don't know," Willingham said. "I could have hurt it the next week and ended up having surgery then. It was a hard decision."
Willingham has been bothered by the sore knee for some time, and the last straw came when he felt increasing discomfort during pregame warmups on Monday night.
He had an MRI on Tuesday that revealed the tear, but GM Terry Ryan said earlier in the day that he didn't think Willingham would need to have surgery during the season.
Everything changed when Willingham met with the doctors, and now he is hoping that they have pinpointed the issue that has been plaguing him during a rough start to the season.
Willingham first tweaked his knee while sliding on a stolen base attempt, and he's been bothered by it for much of the last few weeks. He tried to take a shot to relieve the pain, but that was ineffective.
"I know it's going to fix the problem that's been causing me trouble," Willingham said. "Hopefully that will clear it up and I can play without any pain."