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Notes: Knee surgery set for Marcum

Notes: Knee surgery for Marcum

NEW YORK -- Shaun Marcum's impressive campaign has reached an unfortunate end. The Blue Jays right-hander is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on Wednesday.

After having the operation, Marcum will need a recovery period of four to six weeks before beginning his offseason training program. He was scheduled to take the mound again for the Blue Jays on Thursday in Baltimore, but right-handers Josh Banks and Josh Towers are now the leading candidates to fill the gap in the rotation.

Marcum logged just three innings before exiting Saturday's game against the Yankees upon aggravating the injury, which was first a minor problem following his previous outing in Toronto. After that five-inning start against the Orioles on Sept. 16, Marcum said he woke up and felt some soreness in his knee.

"I think I did it in my last start," Marcum said on Sunday. "I went in the training room the next day, not thinking anything of it, just to get a little treatment. I felt fine on my side [session] and may have just irritated it more yesterday."

Marcum cited a pair of defensive plays that caused the issue to flare up on Saturday. In the second inning against the Yankees, the right-hander experienced some pain during a hectic rundown between third base and home plate. Then, the injury worsened when Marcum hustled to field a ground ball for the final out in the third.

"The last play before they ended up pulling me," Marcum said, "I had to break quick and plant and throw. I may have aggravated it more there."

Following his brief start, Marcum had an MRI exam, which revealed the meniscal tear. That put the finishing touch on a strong 2007 showing for the 25-year-old pitcher, who was promoted to Toronto's roation in May. In 25 starts, he went 11-4 with a 3.91 ERA and 100 strikeouts over 142 2/3 innings. Overall, Marcum went 12-6 with a 4.13 ERA this season.

"I'm very happy with this season," Marcum said. "Unfortunately, I had to come out yesterday. I just wanted to finish strong and carry it over to next year. But we'll get this done, and I'll work hard this offseason to come in and help us get to where we need to be next year."

In the training room: Marcum's situation will result in the 11th surgery for a Blue Jays player this season. Fortunately for designated hitter Frank Thomas and left-hander Scott Downs, who also left Saturday's game due to injury, it doesn't look they'll increase that total.

Thomas left in the fifth inning after feeling some soreness in his right knee. The 39-year-old veteran was held out of the lineup on Sunday as a precaution, but Thomas said he should be fine going forward. Thomas said the knee swelled up some on Saturday, but he hasn't had an MRI.

Toronto manager John Gibbons said that Downs, who has a 2.28 ERA in 78 relief outings this year, wasn't available out of the bullpen on Sunday, but he was considered day-to-day. Downs left Saturday's game in the sixth inning after suffering a back strain.

Backup catcher Sal Fasano will represent the 12th surgery for a Blue Jays player this season, though. On Sunday, Toronto announced that Fasano will have an operation to "clean up" his injured left knee within the next week. The 36-year-old catcher hurt his knee in a collision at the plate while with Triple-A Syracuse last month.

On the bright side: The news on the injury front wasn't all sour for the Blue Jays. Shortstop John McDonald, who had missed the past four games with lower abdominal pain, was back in the starting lineup on Sunday. Gibbons also noted that, if needed, reliever Casey Janssen was fine to pitch on Sunday after a sore right shoulder made him unavailable on Saturday.

Timing is everything: Over the past two games, the Jays and Yankees toiled through nine hours and 45 minutes of baseball, eclipsing Toronto's club record for longest consecutive games. The previous mark was set from April 18-19, 2001, when the Jays combined to play eight hours and 56 minutes in back-to-back games against the White Sox and Yankees.

On Sunday, Toronto and New York played 10 innings in exactly five hours -- one day after playing 14 innings in four hours and 45 minutes. That represents the first time since April 19-20, 1998, that the Blue Jays engaged in consecutive games that lasted at least four hours. The opponents in those contests were also the White Sox and Yankees.

Snapping out of it: Curtis Thigpen's two-run single in the fourth inning on Saturday ended a brutal 0-for-23 skid at the plate for the Toronto rookie. It marked the first time the catcher had a hit or an RBI since Aug. 13, and Thigpen recorded two hits for the first time since July 31. On Sunday, Thigpen chipped in a run-scoring single in his first at-bat in the second inning.

Did you know? Blue Jays right fielder Alex Rios has hit safely in Toronto's first 16 games against the Yankees this season. That marks the longest single-season hitting streak against New York since Cleveland's Dale Mitchell had a 19-game run against New York in 1952.

Coming up: Right-hander A.J. Burnett (9-7, 3.40 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound when the Blue Jays take on the Yankees at 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday at Yankee Stadium. New York will counter with left-hander Andy Pettitte (14-8, 3.79 ERA).

Jordan Bastian 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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