ST. LOUIS (AP) — The tests results were no surprise. Before Adam Wainwright left the field in Milwaukee, the St. Louis Cardinals anticipated they’d be losing their staff ace for the season.
The 33-year-old pitcher will have surgery this week, likely Thursday, because of a completely torn left Achilles tendon. Recovery time is generally 9-to-12 months, and general manager John Mozeliak was “optimistic” the 6-foot-7 right-hander will be ready for spring training.
“Unfortunate news, but not unexpected after what we saw,” Mozeliak said before the Cardinals played Philadelphia. “Given that it’s his left leg, I think we’re optimistic it’ll be sooner rather than later, but as far as this year goes, he’s done.”
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard had a similar injury, sustained on the final out of the 2011 Division Series against St. Louis. Howard missed the first half of the following season.
“Totally been there,” Howard said.
Wainwright was a 20-game winner for the second time in his career last season and was the NL starting pitcher for the 2014 All-Star Game. He was second in the league with 227 innings last season and has twice led the league.
“That’s losing a lot of innings and really good performance and leadership,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It stinks to see a player of his caliber and character potentially miss a season.”
Wainwright was hurt while batting Saturday in Milwaukee. This is the second major injury of Wainwright’s career following a torn elbow ligament that caused him to miss the 2011 season.
“It’s a test, there’s no question,” manager Mike Matheny said.
Wainwright was not at Busch Stadium on Monday. Mozeliak said the pitcher received multiple medical opinions.
Mozeliak said one of two minor league left-hander, Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney, will take Wainwright’s rotation turn on Thursday. Marco Gonzales and Jaime Garcia are experienced options for the long term, both coming off injuries.
Cooney, 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in three starts, was pulled from his scheduled start Monday. Lyons was 1-1 in three starts with a 4.61 ERA.
Gonzales is on the 15-day disabled list at Triple-A Memphis with shoulder tightness and has been cleared to throw on Wednesday. Mozeliak said the 23-year-old Gonzales will have to make at least one minor league start before the team considers recalling him.
Garcia is working his way back from a setback late in spring training and could be ready inside a month. Garcia is trying to return from thoracic outlet surgery to relieve nerve compression.
“Our four starters all have to step up,” Mozeliak said. “I’d like to think any of those four can be THE guy.”
St. Louis has reached the NL Championship Series in each of the last four seasons and began Monday in the NL Central at 12-5.
“It’s not good news today, but it’s not the end of the world, either,” Mozeliak said. “These guys know they can go out and compete and they’re looking forward to that challenge.”
Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward was out of the starting lineup with what he said was a minor hamstring injury after getting removed from Sunday’s game. He was a career .219 hitter against Phillies starter Cole Hamels with no RBIs in 32 at-bats.
“I feel like we’re very capable, and a very fortunate group to have a pitching staff that can kind of slide in and do their thing,” Heyward said. “I think we’re still going to have a lot of fun and do a lot of good things.”