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11/18/08 6:20 PM EST

Neshek's rehab begins after surgery

Right-hander expected to pitch again in 2010

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-handed reliever Pat Neshek can now begin his long road to recovery after undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery on Tuesday morning.

Twins general manager Bill Smith said the procedure, performed in the Twin Cities by team physicians Dr. John Steubs and Dr. Dan Buss, was successful and without complications.

Neshek will wear a soft cast on the arm for about 10 days and then switch to a hinge brace, Smith said. After that, Neshek will start the rehabilitation process that is expected to keep him out for the entire 2009 season.

An MRI on Neshek's right elbow last week revealed that the pitcher had suffered a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. The injury occurred earlier this month during one of Neshek's throwing sessions at the Twins' facility in Fort Myers, Fla.

The right-hander missed nearly all of the 2008 season after partially tearing the ligament in a game at Chicago on May 9. Neshek was 0-1 with a 4.73 ERA in 15 relief appearances for the Twins in '08 before suffering the injury.

The typical recovery time for ligament replacement surgery is 12-15 months, so the hope is that Neshek will be ready to return in time for Spring Training in 2010.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.