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08/28/08 8:24 PM ET

Soriano has season-ending surgery

Reliever should return in '09 after procedure on right elbow

ATLANTA -- Braves right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano underwent season-ending elbow surgery on Thursday and is expected to be ready to pitch again by the start of next year's Spring Training.

Dr. James Andrews performed ulnar nerve transposition surgery on Soriano and in the process removed a bone spur on the posterior side of the elbow. Andrews didn't find any damage to the veteran reliever's ligament.

After signing a two-year, $9 million contract in January, Soriano made just 14 appearances this year. The club's projected closer experienced some elbow discomfort during the early portion of Spring Training and has made three trips to the disabled list this year.

While paying Soriano $6.1 million next year, the Braves are hopeful that he can gain the successful form that enabled him to gain this contract. In 71 appearances last year, the 28-year-old reliever limited opponents to a .181 batting average and a .232 on-base percentage, which ranked second among qualified National League relievers.

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