ATLANTA (AP) -Atlanta Braves reliever Mike Gonzalez will miss the rest of the season after learning he must have elbow ligament-replacement surgery.
Gonzalez, placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 16 with a left elbow strain, said Friday he has a small tear in a ligament below his left elbow.
The tear was discovered in an MRI performed in New York on Thursday by Dr. Dave Altchek, the specialist who also has performed two elbow surgeries on another Braves left-handed pitcher, Mike Hampton.
``This is the worst news you can get,'' Gonzalez said.
A first MRI in Atlanta found no serious problem, but the Braves and Gonzalez remained concerned after an unusually sharp drop in the velocity of his pitches.
``I hadn't thrown 82 (miles per hour) since high school,'' Gonzalez said.
``I was feeling something uncomfortable. You just don't drop 10 or 15 miles per hour.''
No date has been set for the surgery, but Gonzalez said he expects to have the procedure next week.
``I'm not down in the dumps or anything,'' Gonzalez said, adding he is bracing for a long rehabilitation.
``I'm going to go out there and be as aggressive through this as I am with the hitters.''
Gonzalez, obtained by the Braves in an offseason trade that sent first baseman Adam LaRoche to the Pittsburgh Pirates, was 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and two saves in 18 games this season.
Gonzalez saved 24 games for the Pirates last season but was serving as a set-up reliever for Braves closer Bob Wickman.

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