Cardinals slugger Pujols has elbow surgery
1st baseman expected to resume full baseball activities in 3 months
Albert Pujols had elbow surgery Monday and the St. Louis Cardinals star is expected to be ready for spring training.
The 2005 National League MVP underwent a 25-minute outpatient procedure to relieve nerve irritation in his right elbow, which had led to numbness, tingling in his ring finger and pinkie, weakness in his grip and pain along the inside of the forearm.
Dr. George Paletta, the team physician who performed the surgery, said Pujols experienced those symptoms over the last month of the season.
The surgery Pujols had was not the reconstructive procedure that has long been discussed. Such an operation might have sidelined Pujols, whose .357 average ranked second in the major leagues last year, for the first half of next season. Now it is hoped the 28-year-old slugger won't require that procedure.
"My opinion is we've managed this thing quite successfully," Paletta said on a conference call. "I'm still optimistic that we can manage this thing without surgery for the remainder of his career.
"I would not describe this as a big-deal procedure, no."
Paletta described the surgery as "a relatively minor procedure" to relieve compression on the nerve and irritation of the nerve.
Pujols is scheduled to begin physical therapy this week and strength training in six weeks, and is expected to resume full baseball activities in three months.
A follow-up MRI scan on Pujols's elbow after the season showed no change in the ligament and indicated that the nerve was the source of his complaints, Paletta said. Studies were sent to specialist Dr. James Andrews in Alabama, who concurred with Paletta's diagnosis.
Pujols has played for several seasons with a partially torn ligament in the elbow and isn't able to fully extend his arm, but Paletta said that's not unique. The doctor added that Pujols' range of motion was much better last season than in 2007.
Pujols hit .321 with eight homers and 27 RBI in September, his second-lowest monthly average, although he finished with eight hits in his final 12 at-bats. He totalled 37 homers and 116 RBI.
"Albert's performance is remarkable day in and day out, regardless of what's going on," Paletta said. "Certainly, what he did over the course of the last month makes it even more remarkable."