Both Contreras and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. do not believe there is ligament damage. Amaro said that the elbow could have a bone chip or spur, but that Contreras could also also have tendon or muscle problems. The surgery, to be performed in the coming days by noted orthopedist Lewis Yocum, will determine the cause.
"Nobody knows," Contreras said.
Contreras has experienced elbow problems since late April. After his most recent setback, which happened Monday, when he attempted to throw a bullpen session, Phillies team physician Michael Ciccotti recommended surgery.
If it is a tendon problem, which Amaro speculated, surgery could sideline Contreras for four to six months.
Contreras is the only Phillies reliever already under contract for 2012. He is owed $2.5 million next season. The Phillies also hold a 2013 club option.
He'll end his season with only 17 appearances and a 3.86 ERA. He entered the season as the team's closer after a spectacular year as the setup man in 2010.
"It's a blow for us," Amaro said. "We were hopeful to have him come back and pitch at the back end of our bullpen. He's done a great job for us when healthy. That hurts."
Hamels goes Monday
The Phillies placed Cole Hamels (shoulder inflammation) on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, but that was merely a procedural move. More important, Hamels threw a bullpen session termed "absolutely fabulous" by pitching coach Rich Dubee and is scheduled to start Monday in Cincinnati.
Pushing Hamels back to Monday as opposed to his originally scheduled outing Friday allows Dubee to keep the rest of the starters sharp.
"I've had about 15 different rotations set up," Dubee said. "You have one guy on long rest, another guy close to normal rest. One guy comes and says, 'I feel too good for that much rest,' and then you change it around, and the next guy says, 'I can't get that much rest.' "
This way, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee will start this weekend each with an extra day of rest.
The Hamels roster move also allowed the addition of infielder Pete Orr from triple-A Lehigh Valley for a few days. That was necessitated because of minor injuries to Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez.
Howard has inflammation (or bursitis) in his left heel and ankle area. Amaro said Howard was day-to-day and intimated that if it were the postseason, Howard could play. The GM said a day or two off wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for his first baseman.
As for Ibanez, he will need at least a few more days to recover from left groin soreness. He received an anti-inflammatory injection Tuesday and may not play until the weekend.
Ben Francisco started in left field Tuesday, his first start in 32 days, since July 22. . . . Kyle Kendrick will make another spot start Wednesday in the series finale. He has a 1.76 ERA in 151/3 innings against the Mets this season.
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb
at email@example.com or @magelb on Twitter.