HOUSTON -- Disabled shortstop Rafael Furcal underwent microdiscectomy surgery on his lower back on Thursday morning. The 75-minute operation was performed by Dr. Robert Watkins at Marina del Rey Hospital, and club officials said it went as planned without complications.
The procedure is a minimally invasive operation using microscopic magnification to remove all or part of a ruptured disc pressing on a nerve in Furcal's lower back. He is expected to be released Friday, begin rehabilitation next week and be sidelined a minimum of eight weeks.
Watkins performed a similar procedure in 2002 on Dodgers pitcher Kevin Brown, whose disc was badly ruptured. Brown rushed back after two months, but quickly had to shut it down, because he was not fully healed. Reliever Eric Gagne underwent a similar operation by Watkins in 2006. Like Brown, Gagne was also trying to return from elbow woes at the time and did not pitch again that season.
Furcal will be a free agent after this season. He attempted to rehabilitate this injury twice this year, nearly beginning a Minor League assignment a month ago before a relapse. He then underwent a strenuous core exercise program in an attempt to avoid this surgery, but after one game at Triple-A Las Vegas this week, he woke up the next day again in pain.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.