Adam Wainwright May Have 'Significant' Elbow Injury, Returns to St. Louis
General manager John Mozeliak told reporters in Jupiter, Fla., that the early prognosis is "not encouraging." Wainwright felt a tug in his elbow while throwing batting practice Monday, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Post-Dispatch reported Tommy John surgery is one possibility to fix the injury Wainwright is being checked for, indicating the team believes he may have torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
Wainwright already has had the procedure once, in 2004 while he was in the minor leagues, but rebounded to become one of the game's most dominant starters. The 29-year-old finished second to Roy Halladay in NL Cy Young voting last year after going 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA in 33 starts. He skipped his final start of the regular season with elbow discomfort but a checkup in November revealed no structural damage.
Wainwright, the Braves' first-round pick in 2000, has a career major league record of 66-35 with a 2.97 ERA in 182 appearances, all of them with the Cardinals. After spending his first full year in the majors, 2006, in the bullpen, the right-hander became a fixture in the St. Louis rotation.
It goes without saying that the loss of Wainwright for any significant length of time -- let alone the entire season -- would be a huge blow to the Cardinals.
The team already has had plenty to deal with this spring thanks to the media frenzy surrounding its inability to reach an agreement with Albert Pujols on a new contract, raising the specter of the team's best player possibly departing following this season. Now it looks like the Cardinals' chances of regaining NL Central supremacy from the Reds are in serious trouble.