McClellan to avoid surgery on right elbow

McClellan to avoid surgery on right elbow

McClellan to avoid surgery on right elbow
ST. LOUIS -- Kyle McClellan returned to the Cardinals' clubhouse after a Monday trip to have his right elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. During that visit, McClellan received confirmation of the original diagnosis, which does not call for surgery.

McClellan opted to get a second opinion from Dr. Andrews, a noted orthopedist, before concluding with certainty that surgery would not be needed on his right elbow. McClellan was told by team physician Dr. George Paletta last Friday that he is suffering from a flexor pronator strain, as well as Grade 1 (mild) tear of his ulnar collateral ligament.

For now, McClellan will treat the injury with 6-8 weeks of rest. He also had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right arm on Tuesday, designed to aid with the healing of bone and soft tissue.

"[Dr. Andrews] told me before I left that he expects me to be able to come back and pitch in August and September and for the rest of my career without any more elbow problems," McClellan said. "When you hear that from him and Dr. Paletta, it makes you feel a whole lot better about your decision."

McClellan had initially feared that he was headed for his second Tommy John surgery. He underwent the procedure as a Minor Leaguer in 2005, and a second Tommy John surgery has a lower percentage of success than the first.

Though McClellan first alerted the Cardinals to some elbow pain during an appearance on May 17, he confirmed on Tuesday that he had already been feeling discomfort for close to three weeks before that outing. McClellan also now sees evidence that something was wrong. He was regularly leaving balls up and away to left-handed hitters, a sign that he wasn't getting the extension he needed on his release.

Dr. Andrews told McClellan that he did not do additional damage to his elbow by pitching through that initial pain.

"This is definitely a relief," McClellan said. "When I went to [Dr.] Paletta, I was sore, I was hurting. When I brushed my teeth, I could feel it. There were a lot of things that made me think, 'This is not going to be good.' It's definitely a lot better than I anticipated."