FORT MYERS, Fla., March 8 (UPI) -- Minnesota Twins lefthander Eric Milton could be out until October following surgery for a knee injury that was more serious than initially thought.
Milton was expected to miss a month when he left camp Wednesday to undergo surgery in Utah. But the prognosis following the one-hour procedure was much worse.
"It's going to be a long road," Milton said Saturday. "But I have to take my time and do it right and get back healthy."
Doctors removed some 30 pieces of loose cartilage from Milton's left knee and reduced inflammation severe enough to resemble arthritis.
His surgeon, Dr. Thomas Rosenberg, told Milton that the hour-long operation also reduced inflammation severe enough to resemble, but not actually be, arthritis. The pitcher said watching the video of the operation with Rosenberg wasn't pretty.
"It was eye-opening," Milton said. "I learned more in two days than I ever really wanted to know about the knee."
Fellow pitcher Brad Radke, who is Milton's closest friend, said he was stunned when he heard about the severity of the injury.
"I was shocked," said Radke, who thinks Milton rushed rehab after the earlier surgery. "My jaw hit the floor. He knows the extent of the injury this time. He knows you can't do too much too early. Knowing him, he wants to get back out there, but he knows he can't push it."
Milton also had left knee surgery kast August after partially tearing the meniscus. He returned less than a month later but was hobbled as the Twins made it to the American League Championship Series.
Swelling persisted throughout the offseason, but an MRI was negative. Milton came to camp optimistic but walked off the field the day before a scheduled Grapefruit League start on Feb. 26.
"It swelled up the point where I couldn't do the drills anymore," he said.
Milton was acquired from the New York Yankees in 1998 in a deal for Chuck Knoblauch, threw a no-hitter against Anaheim in 1999 and became an All-Star during a 15-win season in 2001. He was 13-9 with a 4.84 ERA last year.