Tigers’ Alburquerque has elbow surgery

Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque is likely to be sidelined for

the first half of next season after surgery on his pitching


The right-hander had a screw inserted during an operation by Dr.

James Andrews. Alburquerque is expected to start a throwing

progression toward the end of spring training and potentially

return to game action by the All-Star break.

The Tigers said Alburquerque had the procedure Thursday.

Alburquerque was one of Detroit’s most pleasant surprises in

2011, going 6-1 as a rookie with a 1.87 ERA. He struck out 67 in 43

1-3 innings, holding hitters to a .142 average with his confounding


But he struggled to stay healthy, dealing with inflammation in

his right arm and then an unrelated injury in August when he was

hit in the head with a ball during batting practice Aug. 12 and had

a concussion.

Alburquerque returned down the stretch, but he pitched only two

innings in the postseason after the Tigers won the AL Central.

The Tigers bolstered their bullpen recently by adding

right-hander Octavio Dotel.

Although Alburquerque stands to miss a significant amount of

time, general manager Dave Dombrowski is optimistic this procedure

– to stabilize a non-displaced stress fracture – will fix what’s

been ailing the 25-year-old pitcher’s right arm.

”They feel that this should solve the problem,” Dombrowski


Although Alburquerque’s durability was obviously a concern,

Dombrowski said the team wasn’t aware of the extent of his arm

problem until the last week or so. He said Alburquerque was sore

after pitching in a game in the Dominican Republic recently.

Dotel’s presence becomes even more important now. He can help

fill Alburquerque’s role in a bullpen anchored by Jose Valverde and

Joaquin Benoit.