Yankees designated hitter Nick Johnson will undergo surgery on his right wrist at New York Presbyterian Hospital on Tuesday. The surgery, to be performed by Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser, is expected to keep Johnson out of the lineup until July and possibly longer, according to manager Joe Girardi.
"From the time of the surgery, it's four to six weeks before he can even pick up a bat," Girardi said before Monday night's Yankees-Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium. "And you're talking about a substantial time after that. So this is not a quick fix. It's going to take awhile."
This will be the second surgery on the same wrist for the oft-injured Johnson, who has missed significant amounts of playing time due to injuries and has been on the disabled list nine times in his 10-year career.
"It's frustrating," Johnson said. "I just want to get it fixed and be able to swing pain-free again."
Johnson said he has felt the pain "from time to time" throughout the season, and was put on the DL on May 8. The Yankees tried to treat the injury with a cortisone shot -- a course of treatment Johnson said had been effective for him previously and had allowed him to return without missing any time in 2009 after having had a similar surgery in July 2008 while a member of the Washington Nationals.
"This time, it just stayed stagnant," Johnson said. "It didn't get worse or better. We did all the treatments we could, and all the movements that bothered me were still bothering me."
Johnson, signed to a one-year, $5.75 million free agent contract as a replacement for the departed Johnny Damon as the No. 2 hitter in the Yankees' lineup, struggled through the first 24 games, batting just .167 with two home runs, 8 RBIs and 23 strikeouts in 73 at-bats. He walked 24 times, however, resulting in an .388 on-base percentage.
His playing time had been reduced even before the injury by Girardi, who said, "His having the surgery really doesn't change anything for me. Unfortunately, we're going to be without him for awhile, longer than we had been hoping for."
In Johnson's place, Girardi had been using Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner in the No. 2 spot, but with Swisher sidelined recently by a sore left biceps muscle, the spot has been Gardner's while the role of DH has been filled by a revolving cast consisting mostly of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada -- an arrangement Girardi said was likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
"The only thing you can do as a manager is play the pieces you've got," Girardi said. "Obviously, I'd like to have more healthy bodies, but this is what we've got right now."
But Posada and Swisher were also out for Monday night's game, which New York won 11-9.
New York did get one player back. Right-handed reliever Chan Ho Park was activated after spending a month on the disabled list because of a right hamstring strain. Righty Ivan Nova was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.
Posada was out because he was hit with a foul tip on his right foot during Sunday's loss to the Twins and has a knot. Posada has also missed several games with a right calf injury.
"Georgie's right side has had a really tough year," Girardi said. "He was X-rayed. There were no broken bones but he's sore. So Georgie can't play today."
Swisher has a left biceps injury that is preventing him from swinging from the left side. The switch-hitter initially felt a pull in the arm several weeks ago and aggravated it last week in Detroit. He played Saturday, when left-hander Francisco Liriano started for the Twins but sat out Sunday.
Swisher was feeling much better Monday and will take left-handed swings Tuesday before determining when he will play again but he is hopeful he will be back in the lineup against Boston that night with hard-throwing right-hander Josh Beckett on the mound.
"When you have a short-term injury you're playing short," Girardi said. "Those are the ones that are trickier to deal with."
Francisco Cervelli, who is hitting .393 in 56 at-bats with two triples and 14 RBIs started at catcher and batted sixth for the first time; he has not been slotted higher than eighth all year. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and scored three runs.
Despite playing without key components to the roster, the Yankees are 24-13 and trail only Tampa Bay for best record in the big leagues.
"The injuries we had to deal with it seems we find a way to get another [win] somehow," Girardi said before the game.