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Notes: Ortiz could need surgery

Notes: Ortiz could need surgery

SAN FRANCISCO -- Right-hander Russ Ortiz has a tear in the flexor tendon of his throwing elbow, which could end his season and might require surgery to repair.

The diagnosis was made after Ortiz underwent a magnetic resonance imaging examination and an X-ray Tuesday. He officially went on the 15-day disabled list and cleared roster room for Tim Lincecum, who left the bereavement list to start the series opener against the Chicago Cubs.

Giants trainer Dave Groeschner called the tear "significant" and estimated the odds of Ortiz undergoing surgery as 50-50. Ortiz was expected to confer with team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki later Tuesday to discuss his options. Groeschner didn't rule out the possibility that Ortiz, who hurt himself during Monday's game at Florida, might request a second opinion.

Even if Ortiz avoids surgery, pitching again in 2007 appears unlikely for him, since barely more than a month remains in the season. He would need at least two weeks of recovery time, besides another week or two to regain his arm strength.

"I don't want to rule him out just yet, but it's pretty close," Groeschner said.

This marked Ortiz's third trip to the disabled list, dashing his hopes of making the same sort of contributions that typified his 1998-2002 stint with the Giants, when he went 67-44. In 12 appearances, including eight starts, Ortiz is 2-3 with a 5.51 ERA.

"Not being able to be that [asset] this year -- that's the frustrating part," said Ortiz, who began the season as the team's No. 5 starter before Lincecum's ascent and injuries derailed his progress.

Each of Ortiz's injuries -- first elbow neuritis, then a strained forearm -- has been different, which is a concern but not an anomaly. Though Ortiz has regained the sound pitching mechanics that helped him thrive earlier in his career, he's also 33, with 1,568 2/3 innings of Major League experience.

"He has pitched a long time," Groeschner said. "These things happen to guys who pitch. They're overuse or stress-type injuries. He's in his 30s. It's not unheard of. This happens to other pitchers who throw so many innings or so many pitches."

Manager Bruce Bochy didn't immediately name Ortiz's replacement in the rotation. Kevin Correia and Patrick Misch remain possibilities, though Bochy mentioned the possibility of promoting a starter from Triple-A Fresno to fill the spot.

Surgery for Messenger: Right-hander Randy Messenger will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair the broken fifth metacarpal bone in his left hand. Groeschner said that a screw will be placed in Messenger's fracture to help him heal.

Groeschner estimated that Messenger, who has continued to throw since injuring himself by punching an equipment cart last Tuesday in Atlanta, could miss two to three more weeks. That would enable Messenger to return before the end of the season.

Adios, Puerto Rico: Bochy said he was "shocked" to hear that the Puerto Rican Winter League is likely to disband after 69 years, due to financial woes.

"There's a lot of history in that league," said Bochy, who played for Bayamon in 1980. "To think that there's going to be no winter ball in Puerto Rico is a huge surprise to me."

Bochy praised winter ball as a great development tool for aspiring players. The loss of Puerto Rico as a potential outlet could rob some players of the chance to improve themselves.

"You're seeing very competitive talent. Also, the games are much more important than a fall league or instructional league game," Bochy said. "You're playing to win every day, and it's just not development. There is pressure on the players, because if you don't play well, there's a good chance you could be released or sent out."

Bonds' guests: Dozens of youths from the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco attended Tuesday's game as left fielder Barry Bonds' personal guests as part of the Major League Baseball Players Trust's "Buses for Baseball" program. Each child received an autograph from Bonds, who also posed for a picture with the entire group.

Courtesy of the players' charitable foundation, Buses for Baseball provides more than 1,500 underprivileged children each year with tickets, transportation, food, souvenirs and personal welcomes from players. Administered by the Players Trust and underwritten by Majestic Athletic, a division of VF Imagewear Inc., "Buses for Baseball" provides many children with their first chance to attend a Major League game.

Coming up: San Francisco and Chicago continue their series Wednesday at AT&T Park beginning at 7:15 p.m. PT. The Giants' Barry Zito and the Cubs' Rich Hill will clash in a matchup of left-handers.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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