ST. LOUIS -- It appears likely that Ricardo Rincon is headed for shoulder surgery. It is all but certain that if Rincon has an operation, he will be out for the season.
Rincon, placed on the disabled list on April 28 with what the club called an "impingement" in his left shoulder, showed virtually no improvement from when he was placed on the DL until a follow-up exam completed on Monday.
"He made no progress in the last 10 days," said head athletic trainer Barry Weinberg. "He's not any closer. So the next option would probably be to have surgery.
"If he has to get to the point where he has to have surgery, it will end his season."
Rincon himself was more definitive on Monday evening. The 36-year-old veteran of 10 Major League seasons said that he will undergo surgery.
"Maybe the season is over for me," he said.
After arriving late at Spring Training due to work visa difficulties, Rincon headed west to pitch for the Mexican squad in the World Baseball Classic. Weinberg stopped short of saying that pitching in the Classic caused Rincon's injury, but he suggested there is at least a correlation.
"He hasn't been right since he came back from the Classic," Weinberg said.
Rincon has pitched in five games for the Cardinals in 2006, with a 10.80 ERA in 3 1/3 innings. He has struck out six batters and walked four. His last appearance was a lengthy mop-up outing in Pittsburgh, when he threw 42 pitches in a blowout game. At that point, he was already hurting. When he was placed on the DL, Rincon said he had been feeling discomfort since the season's first week.
The Cardinals have one left-handed reliever on the roster at this time -- Randy Flores. If Rincon is indeed lost for the season, they may look outside the organization for another option. They could also eventually promote reliever Tyler Johnson, who has pitched well since returning from the disabled list to Triple-A Memphis.
Matthew Leach is reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.