BOSTON(AP) -- Boston Red Sox third baseman John Valentin is out for the season, but he should be able to return next year from surgery to reattach his patellar tendon to his left kneecap.
"I don't think we have any evidence that this would be career-ending," Red Sox doctor Arthur Pappas said Wednesday, a day after Valentin blew out his knee trying to field a routine grounder.
Pappas said he expected David Altcheck, who operated on the same knee in November, to perform the surgery on Thursday in New York. Valentin's leg will be immobilized for four to six weeks and then he faces six to eight months of rehabilitation before he can try to get into baseball shape.
The timetable has him ready for spring training.
"Let's get through this first," said Red Sox manager Jimy Williams, who went to visit Valentin at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester. "He's been through rehabs before. What's one more?"
Other athletes who have sustained major injuries to the patellar tendon include Houston Rockets forward Charles Barkley, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Robert Brooks and Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo. Brooks returned in 10 months.
President Clinton also tore his patellar tendon in 1997, when he slipped on steps at golfer Greg Norman's home. Pappas said the president's injury was less severe.
The injury is rare for baseball players; "It's common in jumpers, basketball players, usually," Pappas said. Inflammation of the patellar tendon is known as "jumper's knee."
Valentin, the longest-tenured member of the Red Sox, had offseason surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and remove scar tissue. He was ready for opening day, but he went on the disabled list with tendinitis in the same knee and missed 35 games.
He was activated on May 19, but said the knee was not fully recovered. On Tuesday night, his leg collapsed under him and he fell to the dirt in obvious pain.
"He explains it as, 'My knee exploded," Pappas said. "The connection between the kneecap and tibia was totally disrupted. This disruption does not permit someone to straighten his leg."
Pappas said Valentin was disappointed on Tuesday night, but he was in better spirits on Wednesday as he prepared for the long rehab. "By today, he had accepted what had happened," Pappas said. "He knows what has to be done and he was ready to start the process."
Valentin played in just nine games this season, hitting .257 with two homers and two RBIs in 35 at-bats. He is a lifetime .283 hitter with 120 homers and 523 RBIs in an eight-year-career, all with the Red Sox.
The Red Sox recalled infielder Andy Sheets from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace Valentin. The team also purchased the contract of pitcher Hippolito Pichardo and optioned left-hander Tim Young to Pawtucket, and moved right-hander Bret Saberhagen from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list.
Wilton Veras, who filled in for Valentin during the previous injuries, was in the lineup Wednesday night at third base.
"I don't think there's anybody going to feel sorry for us at all," Williams said. "We have to go play."