When you hear that Nick Punto will be out twelve weeks due to injury, it’s like hearing that your Uncle Vinnie is getting a mole removed from his ass; you shrug and mumble, “okay, whatever.” But when you hear that Adam Wainwright’s increasingly tender right elbow – the one he throws with, mind you – has suddenly snapped and he’s being checked out for a possible Tommy John surgery … well, let’s just say it’s a dark, dark day.
One of the questions muttered quietly among Cardinal Nation regarded the state of Wainwright’s elbow. He had been so steady throughout his Cardinal career – almost robotically good – that the repeated pains he’s felt in the elbow over the years gave fans concern. It obviously gave the club enough of a concern that they worked a clause into Wainwright’s contract paying him significant money if he manages to avoid the disabled list this year. How long could we possibly expect Waino’s elbow to survive a repetitive strain injury like this?
Most doctors agree that it’s merely a matter of time for some players. Wainwright has been a hard-throwing curve ball specialist for his entire baseball career, and that puts significant stress on the elbow in ways that a knuckleball doesn’t. It’s probably likely that, barring a complete change in Wainwright’s mechanics and approach, this surgery would happen at some point in his career.
It’s just a bummer that it happened this year, which Wainwright will certainly miss. It takes 12-15 months to fully recover from the procedure.
Given the fact that most pitchers recover pretty well from this surgery, the larger question involved with this sudden hole in the team is what the response will be from the front office and coaches. Do you plug Ian Snell into Waino’s spot? When is Shelby Miller ready to take a turn?? The scarier possibility is that the Double Headed Dildo (Dave Duncan and Tony LaRussa) talk Mozeliak into trading a bat (Colby, start packing your bags …) for an unhappy 31 year old pitcher like last year’s Ryan Ludwick fiasco.
Despite any positive outlook, it’s pretty clear that this is a significant blow to a 2011 campaign in which the Cardinals had clearly gone “all in” to win in Pujols’ last year. So now what, geniuses?