Cardinals’ Wainwright undergoes elbow surgery

Including playoffs, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright pitched an MLB-high 512 2/3 innings the last two years.

Benny Sieu/Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS — After getting a second opinion, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright had what the team described as minor elbow surgery on Friday.

The operation was an arthroscopic procedure to trim a small piece of cartilage from the right elbow, according to the Cardinals. The 33-year-old Wainwright is expected to begin physical therapy in two weeks and resume his offseason throwing program in eight weeks.

General manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny faced repeated questions about Wainwright’s health when he had two poor postseason starts before finishing strong in the Giants’ clinching win in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series.

Wainwright failed to get out of the fifth inning in the NL Division Series opener against the Dodgers and in Game 1 against San Francisco, blaming poor mechanics rather than injury or fatigue after both outings.

Mozeliak and Matheny made no mention of the injury at a news conference to review the season earlier this week. Matheny said medical tests ”all came back negative.”

Wainwright went 20-9 with a career-low 2.38 ERA in 32 starts this season. The team said an initial MRI came back negative.

AROUND THE HORN

”His elbow garnished a lot of attention, especially in October,” Matheny said Monday. ”His last start, he felt great. The rest should do him wonders.”

Wainwright, who missed the 2011 season after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery, requested additional tests. The findings of a second MRI resulted in the decision to operate.

The Cardinals have gone to the NLCS for four straight seasons and won the World Series in 2011, putting a heavy load on Wainwright and former ace Chris Carpenter.

Including the postseason, Wainwright has pitched an MLB-high 512 2/3 innings the last two years. He was 5-0 this September, helping St. Louis wrap up its second straight Central division title.

Wainwright also won 20 games in 2009 and has won 19 games twice.