Balfour to undergo right knee surgery

A’s right-hander Grant Balfour is scheduled to undergo right knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus on Thursday afternoon, leaving Oakland without its closer for approximately four to six weeks.

Given that timeline, the A’s are hopeful that Balfour could still be ready by the start of the regular season.

“I’m kind of a glass-half full guy, so I’m looking at it as, if there was ever a time to have it done it would be now,” manager Bob Melvin said.

Balfour, 35, echoed those sentiments in a statement released by the team, saying, “I feel good about getting it done now. It will allow me to get ready for Game 1 of the season. I knew the way I was feeling I wouldn’t have been able to pitch through it all season long.”

Melvin said Balfour felt some knee tenderness toward the end of last season but went about his normal offseason routine without any pain, before experiencing some on Wednesday before his scheduled bullpen. Balfour proceeded with his side session, after which the A’s opted to be proactive and send him for an MRI that revealed the tear.

The operation will be performed by local orthopedist Dr. Douglas Freedberg, who also operated on Scott Sizemore last spring when the A’s infielder suffered a torn ACL on the first day of workouts.

“After the surgery they will know how extensive it is,” Melvin said. “He’s a grinder, and he feels like he’ll be able to rehab very quickly. He keeps himself in great shape.”

In the meantime, the A’s are more than comfortable with their bountiful bullpen depth. Should Balfour end up missing any time during the regular season, Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle stand out as options to close.

“Those are the obvious choices, but we’ll see how it goes,” Melvin said. “Again, depth comes into play. We’re not ruling Grant out to start the season, but this is the reason you accumulate as many guys as you can.”

Balfour compiled 24 saves in 2012, posting a 2.53 ERA and 0.92 WHIP along the way.

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