Owings, on the disabled list since April 26 with a strained right forearm, made the decision because the pain he has been experiencing in his elbow hasn't subsided -- and, in fact, has increased.
"It's just continued to nag me," Owings said by phone on Tuesday. "I tried everything -- rest, rehab, rest, cortisone [shots] ... but it hasn't gotten any better. It feels like it has gotten worse."
Owings will have surgery by noted orthopedist James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. San Diego manager Bud Black said the surgery will likely entail removing loose bodies in the elbow and possibly shaving some bone spurs.
Ten days ago, Owings was preparing for a stint with Triple-A Tucson -- but not as a pitcher. Instead he was going to play some first base and left field and appear as a designated hitter, opting to give being a position player a whirl.
Owings took batting practice and went through drills at Petco Park and had moved on to Peoria, Ariz., home of the Padres' Spring Training facility, to get a few at-bats and innings in the field before moving on to Tucson.
But the increased pain in the elbow made it difficult to swing or throw.
"I didn't get past 90 feet without feeling it," he said of throwing.
Owings said that his plan of becoming a position player who pitches -- instead of the other way around -- has not changed, though he'll have to wait until next season to put it in place.
"That is still the plan," he said.
Owings signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Padres over the winter. The 29-year-old was 0-2 with a 2.79 ERA in six appearances before going on the DL.
He is a career .283 hitter in 219 plate appearances over six Major League seasons, with nine home runs and 35 RBIs.