Scar tissue delays Westbrook's recovery

Scar tissue delays Westbrook's recovery

ST. LOUIS -- Initially hopeful that elbow discomfort would sideline him for only two starts, Jake Westbrook is now bracing for a slightly longer-than-expected stay on the disabled list. Additional tests on Westbrook's right elbow this week revealed a build up of scar tissue, which required a second cortisone shot in the elbow.

The shot, which Westbrook had on Thursday, precludes him from throwing for two days. That meant Westbrook could not resume his throwing program on Friday as had been originally scheduled. Even if he can begin playing catch again on Sunday, the setback is likely enough to cost Westbrook a third start.

"The fact that I haven't thrown yet, it would probably be tough to gather enough arm strength up to make that next start," said Westbrook, who will be eligible to come off the disabled list on May 24. "But you never know."

John Gast started in Westbrook's place on Tuesday and will do so again on Sunday. Westbrook's turn in the rotation would come up next on May 25 -- or May 28, if the Cardinals chose to push it back by taking advantage of a day off next Thursday.

Westbrook was placed on the DL with what the club had described as elbow inflammation. He had also been bothered by biceps tendinitis. News that scar tissue was affecting muscle flexibility in his elbow came after Westbrook underwent an MRI this week.

He said he suspected there was another issue given that the first cortisone shot alleviated discomfort only temporarily. The MRI did show that there was no structural damage, which has Westbrook optimistic that the overall issue should not keep him sidelined extensively. The evidence of no structural damage was welcome news for a pitcher who has already undergone elbow surgery twice in his career.

"I think it's just a combination of the amount that I've thrown over my career and the surgeries that I've had," Westbrook said. "It's definitely not a brand new elbow. It has lots of things going on in there. Everything looked great other than the scar tissue. If anything, I've got that going for me, which is nice."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.