Team spokesman Brian Bartow said Wednesday night that results of MRIs and other tests were being examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles. The team anticipated a news conference Thursday afternoon to disclose findings.
Wainwright, a 20-game winner and runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award last year, was sent back to St. Louis on Wednesday for tests and consultation with team physician George Paletta. Earlier in the day, general manager John Mozeliak said “things do not look encouraging” for the right-hander, who injured his elbow while throwing batting practice Monday.
“I don’t want to speculate, but obviously ligament damage, that’s usually what it results in,” he said.
Bartow said Mozeliak remained pessimistic after the decision to seek a second opinion.
“It appears to not be good,” manager Tony La Russa said. “We’ll see, though.”
Wainwright’s injury is much more significant. Losing him would leave a big hole in what looked to be a stable starting rotation heading into camp. Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook have all had arm surgery during their careers.
There are few pitchers available on the free-agent market, with Kevin Millwood probably the best known.
“It’s going to be tough to replace a guy who wins 20 games, but you never know,” first baseman Albert Pujols said. “One of these young kids could step up like Jaime did last year.”
The 6-foot-7 Wainwright went 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA last season, finishing behind Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay in Cy Young balloting while making his first All-Star team. His 2.93 ERA since 2007 trails only Halladay, and no NL pitcher threw more than Wainwright’s 463 1-3 innings during the past two seasons.
La Russa said he doesn’t believe the injury is related to the soreness Wainwright felt toward the end of last season, when he didn’t pitch in September. He said it’s more likely related to minor issues Wainwright had in 1998 and 2004.
“It was so strange because he had a great throw his first time out,” La Russa said.