JUPITER, Fla. (AP) _ Steve Trachsel has a herniated disk in his back that could force him to miss the first few months of the season.

Trachsel was at his California home on Wednesday deciding whether to undergo surgery. Players who have this type of operation normally miss about three months, Mets general manager Omar Minaya said.

``He's going to have to make a decision on what he wants to do,'' Minaya said. ``We want him to do whatever he thinks is best.''

Minaya wouldn't speculate on how much time Trachsel might miss if he chooses an option other than surgery, which the pitcher wants to consider as a last resort.

The Mets will first look internally to fill Trachsel's spot.

``Hopefully we get him back soon,'' No. 1 starter Pedro Martinez said. ``It'll be nice to get him back to be the consistent starter that he's always been.''

Trachsel flew to New York over the weekend to have an MRI exam after experiencing discomfort in his lower back following his most recent start.

He then headed to California to receive a second opinion.

Minaya said Wednesday that the MRI had shown evidence of a herniated disk.

Trachsel, 34, went 12-13 with a 4.00 ERA. He has made at least 28 starts each of the last 10 years.

Right handers Matt Ginter, Jae Seo, and Aaron Heilman would be the most likely to replace Trachsel as the fifth starter in the Mets rotation.

``The opportunity is there for a few guys,'' Mets manager Willie Randolph said. ``We'll see who takes the bull by the horns.''