While the hope and likelihood remains that Padres ace Jake Peavy can return in a month or two, surgery on his badly injured right ankle hasn't entirely been ruled out.

If he does need surgery to repair the torn tendon injury, Peavy's season would be over.

"They think they can avoid surgery with a cast and conservative treatment," Peavy's longtime agent Barry Axelrod said by phone. Though, the mere mention of surgery as a possibility, even a remote one, has to be a scary thought for the Padres.

Even if surgery isn't needed, it's apparent the injury is worse than first believed. Peavy, who is known as a battler, pitched seven solid innings a week ago Monday on the injured foot (allowing three runs, two earned, while striking out eight), and has been pitching through pain since injuring himself while running the bases May 22 against the Cubs. Peavy was "limping noticeably" in his last start, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Peavy is 6-6 with a 3.97 ERA, despite pitching on one foot his past few starts.

The Padres were hoping to shop him before the July 31 trade deadline. It was always going to be difficult to trade him, anyway, considering the nearly $60 million remaining on his contract through 2012 and his full no-trade clause. But now, a trade for the star right-hander looks especially remote.

The current plan is to keep Peavy in a hard cast for a couple weeks, then to re-evaluate the situation. Padres trainer Todd Hutcheson has been quoted saying Peavy could be out "eight to 12 weeks." Some hoped he could make it back just after the All-Star break, and Hutcheson's estimate has been viewed as a worst-case scenario. Although now, with surgery still a small possibility, the eight-to-12 week estimate has to be viewed as only the second-worst case.

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