Burnett was examined Monday by arm specialist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. An MRI revealed a torn ligament, and Andrews will perform the surgery.
"They are talking about going in arthroscopically first and check what it is," said Florida Manager Jeff Torborg, who already has been quote as saying "sick, just sick," by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel on reports that Burnett will miss at least one year.
If the damage is extensive, doctors could opt for "Tommy John" surgery that would sideline Burnett at least a year.
The Sun-Sentinel said Tuesday, that if the report is accurate, Burnett will be gone at least a year, and possibly up to 18 months, meaning he could be sidelined until spring training 2005.
"We were all shocked," his agent, Darek Braunecker, told the newspaper. "In fact, reality hasn't quite set in yet."
Burnett was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Saturday, one day after he gave up five runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings against St. Louis. He is 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in four starts.
This is Burnett's third stint on the DL in less than a year. He missed nearly a month last August with a bone bruise in his pitching elbow, and was sidelined earlier this month with tightness in his right forearm.
The fifth-overall pick in the 1995 draft by the New York Mets, Burnett showed signs of his overmatching stuff on May 12, 2001, pitching a nine-walk, no-hitter against the San Diego Padres.
Acquired in a deal involving Al Leiter, Burnett is 30-32 in 82 major league appearances, going 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in four starts this year.
To fill his roster spot Monday night, the Marlins recalled righthander Justin Wayne from Triple-A Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League. The 24-year-old Wayne gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings Monday night in a 7-1 loss at Arizona.
Wayne was 1-1 with a 5.91 ERA in two starts with Albuquerque. The fifth overall pick in the 2000 draft was acquired from Montreal last July in the deal that sent outfielder Cliff Floyd to the Expos.
On Tuesday, the Marlins sent Wayne to Triple-A Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League and recalled lefthander Tommy Phelps.