Chavez to Miss 2009 Season

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Eric Chavez is headed for another back surgery and won't return in 2009 for the Oakland Athletics.

The six-time Gold Glove third baseman, on the 60-day disabled list with a herniated disk and strained right forearm, is scheduled to have the operation June 23, performed by Dr. Robert Watkins. This will be his second back surgery - the same microdiscectomy procedure in a different spot - and fifth operation overall since Sept. 5, 2007.

A's manager Bob Geren said the upcoming procedure is "no doubt" season-ending but could give Chavez a chance to salvage his career and play in 2010. Chavez has said the back problem could end his career.

Watkins also operated on Chavez's back on Oct. 9, 2007. Chavez had surgeries on both shoulders that offseason, too, then another shoulder procedure last Aug. 13.

"He's battled hard to overcome numerous surgeries," Geren said.
"Unfortunately it's another surgery for him. This is his best chance to play again. Baseball players want to play."

A's assistant general manager David Forst said Watkins has given the club every indication that if all goes as planned Chavez could extensively rehab his back and be ready by spring training next year. The procedure won't fuse the disks together, which would have been career-ending according to Forst. Chavez had been researching his options in recent weeks, then informed the team he planned to go ahead with the surgery, Forst said.

"We remain optimistic this will take care of his back problem," Forst said. "It will give him seven or eight months to rehab and be ready by spring."

A call to Chavez wasn't immediately returned Sunday.

This is certainly another discouraging development for Chavez, who appeared in eight games this season before the injuries sidelined him. He had only one hit in his last 22 at-bats and was in an 0-for-15 stretch. He hit .100 with one RBI.

Chavez played in only 23 games in 2008 and has been limited to just 121 games over the last three seasons.

"I'm not getting cut on again, period," he told last month. "I don't care if I have to rehab it for 20 months, I'm not getting surgery for this."

His teammates are cheering for him to get back on the field and return to his former sure-gloved self. Chavez won six straight AL Gold Gloves from 2001-06.

"It's tough," second baseman Mark Ellis said. "The guy's gone through a lot the last couple years. He hasn't been able to do what he loves to do. A lot of guys in this clubhouse don't realize what Chavy was. ... Everybody in here really respects him. We miss him. He's a big piece of this clubhouse."

The A's reinstated outfielder Travis Buck from the 15-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday.