February 24, 2011

Adam Wainwright meet Tommy John

Adam Wainwright, meet Tommy John. Not the pitcher who long ago underwent the first surgery to repair some defective components in his pitching arm. What Cardinal Nation has feared for the last couple of days is now confirmed by the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office.

General manager John Mozeliak announced late Thursday morning that Wainwright will need to undergo Tommy John surgery. Cardinals doctor George Paletta will perform the procedure in St. Louis. No date has been set. Recovery time for Tommy John typically takes 12 to 15 months, usually the latter in the case of a starting pitcher.

Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa now has the task of finding another arm to fill a fifth spot in the starting rotation. Potential candidates with starting experience are Ian Snell and Kyle McClellan. La Russa says including those two, there are at least a half dozen possibilities. The Cards' skipper has also floated the possibility of working in the fifth starter by committee, which would permit the club to head into the season without trying to etch a fifth hurler’s name in stone.

Does the loss of Wainwright for the 2011 season, and maybe beyond, have an impact on the NL Central? The reactions coming out of Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Chicago suggest half the NL Central now believe they have a shot at the division.