Wainwright undergoes right elbow surgery

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

After pitching through on-and-off elbow discomfort this season, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright had a piece of cartilage trimmed from his right elbow on Friday. The procedure is not expected to affect his readiness for Spring Training, as Wainwright should be able to resume throwing in eight weeks, after six weeks of physical therapy.

The Cardinals confirmed the surgery after the fact, this news coming just days after general manager John Mozeliak announced that doctors had examined Wainwright’s elbow last Friday and prescribed him rest. After that press conference, Wainwright received a second opinion on his elbow, at which time it was determined that surgery was the best way to address the issue. He had an MRI as part of both examinations.

Wainwright missed one start due to elbow tendinitis in June and then fought through discomfort at various points afterward. There were times when Wainwright had to alter his mechanics as a result, though he repeatedly insisted that he was not concerned that continuing to pitch would cause additional damage to his ulnar collateral ligament, which was repaired when he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011.

Talk about his elbow problems went away in September, when Wainwright went 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA to help lead the Cardinals to a division title. But it quickly resurfaced during the postseason when manager Mike Matheny hinted that Wainwright was not at full strength. Wainwright couldn’t get through five innings in either of his first two playoff starts.

Nevertheless, the organization referred to reports about Wainwright pitching through elbow pain this postseason as “overblown.” Wainwright did quiet the speculation, at least briefly, with a strong seven-inning start in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. It would be the last time he pitched.

The assumption regarding Wainwright’s elbow issues was that it had to do with the fatigue of throwing 519 2/3 innings since the start of the 2013 season. No Major League pitcher has carried a heavier two-year workload. Mozeliak had already said the club will be more deliberate in curtailing that workload next year so as to avoid putting such a strain on Wainwright’s arm.

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