With the Pujols situation looming large in Cardinals camp, the last thing they needed was something as catastrophic as this.
Co-ace Adam Wainwright has returned to St. Louis, just a few days into spring training, to have his right elbow examined. Many believe it to be a possible ligament injury.
Wainwright claims that he felt pain in his elbow while throwing batting practice on Monday. GM Jim Mozeliak said that "it's a significant injury," and that "things do not look encouraging" for the young right hander.
The Cy Young runner-up last season, Wainwright went 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA and 213 strikeouts. He did that all in 230 innings. In five seasons with the Cardinals, Wainwright is 66-35 with a 2.97 ERA.
He's been injury free since minor elbow problems back in 2004; however, he did miss the final start of last season with elbow soreness.
Although nothing has been officially determined yet, Tommy John Surgery and possibly 12-18 months of recovery could become a reality for Wainwright.
This could be a huge blow for St. Louis. They aren't left without an ace, as Chris Carpenter is perfectly capable, but no team can prepare for the loss of a top pitcher.
Young left hander Jamie Garcia will have to come up huge this season to help soften the loss, as well as a few of Dave Duncan's most recent reclamation projects, Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse.
To fill the vacant spot in the rotation, the Cardinals reportedly have been looking into acquiring the services of Kevin Millwood. Or it could be Miller Time in St. Louis. Top pitching prospect Shelby Miller has been dazzling in camp, and it may be time to give him his shot at the rotation.
Either way, it's a major blow for the club. Wainwright is easily one of the most valuable players on this team, aside from Pujols and Carpenter.
Other Cardinals Injury News:
Newly signed infielder Nick Punto will be undergoing hernia surgery and will be sidelined 8-12 weeks. He has been dealing with discomfort in the area of his groin since the onset of camp.