CINCINNATI -- Reds shortstop Alex Gonzalez's 2008 season never got started. And now, it's already over. The compression fracture in Gonzalez's left knee has not improved and the 31-year-old has opted to undergo season-ending surgery on Monday. "I had an MRI last month, and it hadn't gotten better or worse," Gonzalez said. "I've been working hard for three months, and I haven't seen any progress. I don't want to wait another month or two. It's hard because I want to play. This is my career. I don't want to miss Spring Training next year. I want to play the entire year and be healthy."
Gonzalez was first diagnosed with the fracture in February during the early days of Spring Training. At the time, the club never revealed an expected return date, but it seemed that it would be a matter of weeks, not months. Surgery was also not expected to be needed. While Gonzalez was on the 60-day disabled list, he had started a running program, and at one point last month said he was running at 75 percent. He had also been hitting in the cage and taking grounders. The Reds have been fortunate that Jeff Keppinger and Jerry Hairston Jr. have stepped up and played well at shortstop with Gonzalez out. Both Keppinger and Hairston have spent time on the DL this season as well. Gonzalez was signed to a three-year contract worth $14 million in November 2006. He is guaranteed to make $4.6 million this season and $5.375 million in 2009. There is a $6 million mutual option for 2010 with a $500,000 buyout. Last season, Gonzalez batted .272 with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs in 110 games. He was limited to pinch-hitting duties for much of September because of a bone bruise on the same left knee. He also missed 28 games while on bereavement leave. Gonzalez expects the rehabilitation from Monday's operation to last five to six months. "If I go ahead now, I'll be back by November or December and can come into Spring Training ready," Gonzalez said. "I don't want to miss another Spring Training. [Surgery] was the last option. [My knee] hasn't gotten better like it was supposed to, and I've been working hard. It's a hard decision because I want to play. But before I play, I want to be 100 percent. I don't want to be less than 100 percent."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.