NJ.Com- ATLANTA — The Yankees refused to fully divulge what doctors have learned about Brett Gardner’s troublesome right elbow. However, manager Joe Girardi offered a glimpse into the findings Tuesday, revealing that Gardner’s issues have nothing to do with his elbow ligaments. That fact alone rules out the possibility of Tommy John surgery, which would have cost the outfielder the rest of his season. Girardi ruled out just one possibility for Gardner, who has been hindered by recurring pain in his right elbow since going on the disabled list on April 19 with what was diagnosed as a strain. Gardner’s status going forward remains unclear. Gardner visited orthopedic surgeon James Andrews on Monday and is scheduled for a follow-up with Cincinnati-based orthopedic surgeon Tim Kremchek tomorrow. Both Girardi and Gardner declined to share details about the condition of his elbow until after Kremchek offers a second opinion. Gardner did, however, insist that he will see the field again this year. “It really doesn’t matter what he said,” Gardner said yesterday, when asked about his visit with Andrews. “I think I’m going to play.”

This whole situation seems very reminiscent of Michael Pineda. When Gardner went down earlier this year, I don’t think anybody figured it to be that serious of an injury. And now, just like it was with Pineda, the mystery and speculations are coming out as Gardner is approaching two full months off the field. I’m no doctor, but I have no idea what else could be wrong with his elbow if it’s not ligaments. If it was anything with his bone, it should have healed by now. Eliminate blood diseases and all we’re left with is gout of the elbow. But seriously, I guess there’s tissue and tendons and shit, but my money is on something more obscure causing this hush throughout the Yankee clubhouse. We’ll know for sure after Gardner meets with Tim Kremchek.

Second opinions are never good, especially when the first opinion was from Dr. James Andrews. From what I’ve seen, Andrews is usually the authority on pretty much every injury in baseball. The guy is a trusted name and his presence is everywhere. He’s mentioned on more telecasts than W.B. Mason. Gardner must have hated the news he got from him if he’s going to Kremchek, but let’s hope for the best. If Gardner is out, then the Yankees are once again going to be a playoff team (if they get there) that lives and dies with the home run. The dimension that Gardner adds to the team is immeasurable, and DeWayne Wise isn’t cutting it as an understudy. Over the last couple weeks, the Yankees are playing well because their power hitters are hot and the pitching has been solid. It’s because of this that the severity of not having Brett in the lineup has gone somewhat under the radar. But we all know, and we’ve all seen what kind of stale offense this team can have when the home runs cool off. Gardner is quietly one of the most important pieces of the Yankees and his absence will surely be felt come August and September if this elbow mystery turns out to be something season threatening.