NEW YORK (AP) — Mets starter Mike Pelfrey has a partial tear in his right elbow and is "99 percent" certain he will have reconstructive Tommy John surgery that will sideline him until next year.
The team made the announcement about its up-until-now durable pitcher shortly after New York beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 Thursday.
"Obviously, it's frustrating," Pelfrey said. "I've never been hurt in my life."
Pelfrey is 0-0 with a 2.29 ERA after three starts. He was a big part of the Mets' rotation the past four years, especially after ace Johan Santana needed shoulder surgery and missed the entire 2011 season.
"Everything was working," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "To have this happen is a true shame."
Added fellow starter Jonathon Niese: "It's a sad day."
The injury could end Pelfrey's career with the Mets, who selected him ninth overall in the 2005 amateur draft. The 28-year-old right-hander is making $5,687,500 this year and the team may decide not to tender him a contract for 2013, especially since he is likely to miss a significant chunk of the season while rehabbing.
The recovery time for Tommy John surgery is typically 12-18 months.
If the Mets want to keep Pelfrey under their control, in December they would have to offer him at least $4.55 million for next year. Pelfrey is eligible for arbitration after this season and can become a free agent following the 2013 World Series.
Pelfrey's best season was 2010, when he went 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA. He has thrown at least 184 innings in each of the past four years, topping 200 innings twice.
The Mets' win made them 11-8, a nice start during a season in which many of their fans predicted dire results. They still have Dillon Gee and R.A. Dickey in the rotation, along with Santana and Niese.
Chris Schwinden will be called up from Triple-A Buffalo to pitch in Pelfrey's place Friday at Colorado, but it's not yet known how the Mets plan to fill the spot long-term.