Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun, who was so excited going into this season to prove that a 39-year-old could be a reliable every day catcher, will undergo season-ending surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
The procedure will be performed in Cincinnati by Reds team physician Timothy Kremchek. It requires about six months of recovery time, Zaun said.
“The last five or six days of the rehabilitation exercises, we weren’t making any progress,” Zaun said. “I was coming back feeling exactly the same I did before.”
So, he chose surgery.
“I wanted to feel good about my chances of coming back to play in 2011, and everybody tells me that this rehab is six months,” Zaun said. “I’m not unrealistic. I know that next year, whether it’s here or somewhere else, I’m going to be the kind of guy who is ready to play the opening day of Spring Training. So I need the extra time, and it was fish or cut bait time for me. I needed to make a decision.”
After a spectacular Spring Training cemented his role as Milwaukee’s regular catcher, Zaun started the season 0-for-21 at the plate but batted .333 over his next 81 at-bats to boost his average to .265 before going on the disabled list May 21. He originally injured his shoulder in a plate collision with Washington’s Ian Desmond in mid-April.
Zaun thanked Brewers general manager Doug Melvin “for the faith he showed in me. He and I had high hopes.” Zaun is earning $1.9 million this season including his $500,000 signing bonus. He expects the Brewers will decline his $2.25 million club option for 2011 and pay a $250,000 buyout instead. Zaun will turn 40 next April 14.
Of the sudden end to his brief Brewers career, Zaun said, “It’s tough. I feel like there’s work, goals left unrealized. I had a lot higher hopes for this year. I felt like we were going to be competitive to the point where we were going to play meaningful baseball in September. I felt like my presence here was going to make major contributions towards helping the pitching staff take the next step. Whether we made it to the postseason or not, we would be knocking on the door for 2011, and I was going to have something to do with that. …
“Even the 21 at-bats [without a hit], I swung the bat better in a Brewers uniform better than I ever have at any point in my career. I felt I had a very, very special season in front of me. I really felt like I had a chance to be a legitimate .300 hitter for a full season as a Major League starter.”