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Padres' Blanks needs Tommy John surgery

Padres' Blanks needs Tommy John surgery

SAN DIEGO -- On Tuesday afternoon, Padres outfielder Kyle Blanks tested his ailing right elbow by attempting to play catch.

The pain in his elbow cut short that throwing session and instead led Blanks down a path he never wanted to travel -- Tommy John surgery.

The Padres announced Wednesday that Blanks will have reconstruction of the collateral ligament in his right elbow. Blanks will have the surgery Friday at Scripps Clinic under the watch of team physicians Jan Fronek and Heinz Hoenecke.

The recovery time, from what Blanks was told, is between seven and 10 months, meaning he will miss Spring Training and part of the 2011 regular season.

"I threw and there was no marked improvement," Blanks said of his abbreviated session Tuesday. "It was the same feeling."

Blanks, on the disabled list since May 20 (retroactive to May 18), with what at first was a strain in the elbow, felt stiffness on June 14 while on a rehabilitation assignment with the Triple-A Portland Beavers.

Blanks had been getting treatment on the elbow and up until Tuesday was hopeful that he wouldn't need surgery.

"We gave it enough time to heal on its own," he said. "We exhausted every option and took time with it. We went through all the possibilities and options and this is where the road led us."

Teammates and fellow outfielder Chris Denorfia knows what it's like to have a similar injury. Denorfia needed Tommy John surgery in Spring Training of 2007 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. He tore the ligament making a routine throw.

"The rehabs are fairly similar between pitchers and a hitter," Denorfia said. "You can start hitting at six months. With throwing, you're starting from scratch. ... It's a long rehab."

Blanks appeared in 10 games with Class A Lake Elsinore, hitting .270 in 37 at-bats with 12 strikeouts as a designated hitter before being sent to Portland, where he was tested his elbow playing in the field.

Blanks was the Padres' Opening Day starter in left field and was hitting .157 in 33 games before the injury. He struggled with contact, striking out 46 times in 102 at-bats.

"I think there's relief in the sense of we now known where this is going," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "It's disappointing, but it's reality."

Blanks sounded pragmatic more than disappointed on Wednesday when he met with reporters to discuss his impending surgery.

"It's not anything I would have thought would happen," he said. "But it's something that needs to get taken care of."

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