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.