PHOENIX -- The A's will be without closer Grant Balfour for 4-6 weeks because of arthroscopic surgery on the meniscus in his right knee, which took place Thursday afternoon.
Balfour came to manager Bob Melvin and the A's medical crew Wednesday to let them know he was having pain in his right knee, something he'd felt toward the end of last year. Balfour went ahead and threw a bullpen session later in the morning, but was sent for an MRI in the afternoon.
The MRI showed a tear in the meniscus, and the A's had Dr. Doug Freedberg perform the surgery at Surgcenter at Pima Crossing in Arizona. The team said Balfour's surgery was successful as Freedberg performed a lateral meniscectomy of his right knee. The recovery
"The doctors say he'll be pitching in 4-6 weeks after the surgery, so if there was any time to have it, with a long spring, this is it," Melvin said, noting that the A's are at the beginning of a seven-week spring training, one week longer than usual thanks to the World Baseball Classic.
"He's all right," Melvin said. "He's a grinder, and he feels he'll be able to rehab it with this long spring."
In a release given out by the club, Balfour sounded relatively upbeat.
"I didn't know what it was other than it was a little sore," Balfour said of his right knee. "Obviously we were in a pennant race, so I was going to pitch. (After the season)
"I feel good about getting it done now. It will allow me to get ready for Game 1 of the season. I knew the way I was feeling I wouldn't have been able to pitch through it all season long.''
If it were to be longer, right-hander Ryan Cook and left-hander Sean Doolittle would be the first to get cracks at the job until Balfour is ready.
"Those are the obvious choices," Melvin said. "And obviously this is where our depth comes into play."
In the last few weeks Oakland general manager Billy Beane has added Francisco Rodriguez, a hard-throwing right-hander, and veteran left-hander Hideki Okajima to the mix. Neither is likely to close, but either could step up and help fill the spots vacated by setup men Doolittle and Cook, if needed.