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05/20/08 8:35 PM ET
Tolbert to miss at least two months
Infielder to undergo surgery on injured left thumb
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Infielder Matt Tolbert will undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb on Thursday, and likely won't be ready to return to the baseball field for at least two months. On Tuesday morning, Tolbert saw hand specialist Dr. Tom Varecka, who concurred with previous recommendations from doctors in Colorado that surgery was indeed necessary. "As soon as I gave him the CD and he looked at the MRI, he came back right away and said we had to do surgery," Tolbert said. Varecka will perform the surgery. It will involve reattaching the ligament, which currently is torn away from the bone and moved out of its normal position. Tolbert, 26, was told that following the surgery, his thumb will be immobilized for 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 weeks before he can begin the rehab process. He will have to wear a cast for "a couple of weeks" and then move into a splint. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the team will know more about an exact timetable for Tolbert's return once the operation is performed. "I told him, after he hurt his thumb, to let them take care of you, get you well, and then we'll get you back on the field," Gardenhire said. "Once they get in and do the surgery, we'll know how bad it really is, but it's going to be awhile." Tolbert suffered the injury while sliding head-first into first base on the final play of Thursday's game against the Blue Jays. He revealed the injury to the Twins when they arrived in Colorado on Friday after he realized that he couldn't grip a bat. The swelling in Tolbert's thumb has gone down drastically, but he said he still doesn't have complete control over the thumb. Doctors told Tolbert that surgery was the only way he could regain full motion, due to how far the ligament had moved and that the ligament could not repair itself on its own. Tolbert has outwardly expressed his disappointment over the injury, which has sidelined him just when his playing time in the infield appeared to be increasing. Tolbert was batting .265 over 30 games this season for the Twins. Still, the infielder tried to remain positive on Tuesday and was looking ahead to what it will take for him to get back on the field. "A 100 percent recovery, they told me," Tolbert said. "But they told me that when I come back, it's going to hurt a little right away. I'm going to try not to overdo it too quick. I'm an extremist guy, all or nothing. So I'm going to make sure it's completely healed before I go out there and be reckless again." Tolbert doesn't plan on changing his aggressive nature as a player -- that is, except for one thing. "No move diving into first base," he added.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.