February 24, 2011

Waino likely out for 2011 season

St. Louis Cardinals’ ace, Adam Wainwright is not in Spring Training camp. Wainwright recently felt discomfort in his right elbow during a pitching session. The pain worsened by the next day. Wainwright underwent an MRI, the early indications not good, according to Cardinals GM John Mozeliak. Wainwright was sent back to St. Louis to see the team doctor.

Speculation suggests Tommy John surgery could be in the offing, but even if that’s not the case, the injury seems bad enough for Cards' manager Tony La Russa and longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan to immediately start evaluating their available pitchers for a replacement in the Cards' rotation.

At the top of that list, Kyle McClellan, who for the last couple of seasons, has started Spring Training as if he were going to be a starting pitcher. On those occasions, as is now, there was a potential need for McClellan’s services as a starter. As it turned out, McClellan was not needed in the starting rotation and slipped back into his bullpen role. This time around, however, the need seems much more likely.

McClellan is not the only hurler the Cardinals will eye in Jupiter, Florida. The list is long ... about as long as there are pitchers not already considered in the starting rotation.

The impact of Wainwright’s absence will undoubtedly resonate throughout the NL Central, but the impact of his potential replacement is of critical importance to the team as well.

Mozeliak currently doesn’t believe the Cards will go outside the current realm of pitchers in camp. There’s no defining a list of those who would like to compete for the suddenly open starting spot in the rotation. Pick who you will, but know La Russa and Duncan will be most impressed by the pitcher that steps up the best.