Balfour to undergo knee surgery

Grant Balfour limps after bullpen session

Balfour to undergo knee surgery
February 14, 2013, 8:45 am
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Grant Balfour struck out 72 batters in 74.2 innings last season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

UPDATE at 3 p.m.:  The Athletics announced today that closer Grant Balfour underwent successful arthroscopic surgery this afternoon to perform a lateral meniscectomy of his right knee. The recovery timeline for this type of procedure is normally four to six weeks, the team said.

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PHOENIX -- A's camp has its first injury. Closer Grant Balfour will undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. He will be out 4-6 weeks.

Balfour initially hurt the knee last season but kept pitching on it.

"I didn't know what it was other than I was a little sore," Balfour said in a statement. "Obviously we were in a pennant race so I was going to pitch."

The operation will be performed by Dr. Doug Freedberg, the same doctor that operated on Scott Sizemore's knee last season.

Balfour threw a bullpen session yesterday. He even stayed out on the mound and took a couple extra tosses before limping off the mound. According to A's manager Bob Melvin, Balfour even played catch Thursday morning prior to the surgery to test it out.

"I feel good about getting it done now," Balfour said. "It will allow me to get ready for game one of the season," I knew the way I was feeling I wouldn't have been able to pitch through it all season."

The A's are maintaining a positive outlook that Balfour won't be gone too long. Melvin says he is looking at it in a glass half full manner, because of how early the addressed the issue.

"He's a grinder and he feels like he'll be able to rehab quickly," Melvin said. "If there's ever a time to have it and find it, especially with a linger spring now is the time."

Balfour says the pain in his knee subsided in the offseason and he was able to work out with very little soreness. As a result, he didn't think it would be an issue. The problem wasn't painful enough for the A's medical staff to suggest undergoing an MRI at the end of last season.

"It was more kind of down the IT band and some soreness," Melvin said. "I don't think it was to the point where it was something we were thinking about doing. If it continued to bother him some then certainly you look to do that. Our trainers run around, talk to everybody, they were present, they visited everybody."

"I don't think it really stated to bother him until he got back here," Melvin added.

The Australian native was 3-2 with a 2.53 ERA, 72 strikeouts, and 24 saves in 2012. He was inline to be the A's closer this season, and should assume the role upon return. In case Balfour isn't ready to start the season, Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle will likely split time in the ninth inning.