Cardinals fear Adam Wainwright has “significant” elbow injury

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As if the early days of spring training haven’t been tough enough on the Cardinals, now Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that ace Adam Wainwright has returned to St. Louis to have his right elbow examined for a possible ligament injury.

Wainwright apparently felt pain while throwing batting practice Monday and general manager John Mozeliak told Goold that he believes “it’s a significant injury” and “things do not look encouraging” for the Cy Young runner-up.

Wainwright has been mostly injury free since experiencing elbow problems in 2004, but did miss the final start of last season due to elbow soreness. Before that he went 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA and 213 strikeouts in 230 innings and Wainwright is 66-35 with a 2.97 ERA in five seasons with the Cardinals after being acquired from the Braves as a prospect for J.D. Drew in December of 2003.

He’ll be examined by doctors today and then get a second opinion later this week, but at this point Tommy John surgery and a 12-18 month recovery timetable looms.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.

The Red Sox sign Jhonny Peralta

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The Red Sox have signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta to a minor-league deal. He’ll report to Pawtucket.

Peralta, 35, hit a paltry .204/.259/.204 in 58 plate appearances for the Cardinals this year. But with Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list — and ineffective when he hasn’t been — the Sox could use some infield depth.

This is the second former Tiger that former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has picked up today, after signing Doug Fister. No word if he’s kicking the tires on Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch.