Dodgers Lose Eric Gagne to Surgery

Dodgers closer Eric Gagne will undergo the second Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery of his career Friday in Los Angeles, forcing him to miss the rest of this season and probably the first half of 2006. Gagne injured his knee during drills in spring training and may have returned too quickly, forcing him to alter his throwing motion and put more strain on his elbow.

A second MRI on Gagne's ailing right elbow showed a partially torn ligament. Gagne's procedure isn't believed to be career-threatening.

Although club officials are hoping Gagne can return by next year's All-Star break, the pitcher himself is more ambitious. He feels he can be back by May.

Gagne originally underwent Tommy John surgery as a minor-leaguer in 1997, then slowly the developed into one of the most dominant closers in the game, converting 84 consecutive save opportunities in 2002-2004. He is second on the all-time list with 55 saves in 2003 and seventh with 52 in 2002. Is 152 saves 2002-2004 is also a major league record and he tops the Dodger chart with 160 career saves.

The Dodgers signed Gagne last winter to a two-year, $19 million contract extension through 2006. For that investment, they will get 14 appearances and eight saves in 2005 plus whatever Gagne can give them if or when he returns in 2006, after which he will be eligible for free agency.

Catcher Paul Bako also will miss the rest of the season after reconstructive surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, also slated for Friday. The Dodgers signed him as a free agent to a one-year, contract but he played in just 13 games before going down last month with what at the time was termed a "mild sprain."