Cardinals’ McClellan hopes to avoid surgery

Fearing the worst, Cardinals reliever Kyle McClellan got some good news Friday afternoon.

McClellan thought he might be gone for the season after leaving Thursday’s game in San Francisco with elbow pain. But after returning to St. Louis to be examined by Cardinals’ head team physician Dr. George Paletta, the outlook appears better.

Friday’s examination revealed a strained flexor pronator and a small tear of his ulnar collateral ligament, but the tear is small enough that McClellan believes surgery might not be necessary.

“We think there’s a good chance of rehabbing it over the next few weeks and avoiding surgery,” McClellan told in a text message.

McClellan described the findings as “good news” after thinking Thursday that a second Tommy John surgery might be necessary, which would have put him out for the rest of this season and part of 2013.

He will instead rehab the elbow the next couple of weeks and hope to avoid going under the knife like he did as a minor leaguer in 2006.

McClellan has a 5.30 ERA in 16 appearances, allowing 16 hits and 11 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings pitched. He allowed runs in five of his last six outings while apparently trying to pitch through the elbow pain.

The Cardinals signed the right-hander to a one-year, $2.5 million contract to avoid arbitration in January.

The St. Louis native was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday. Brandon Dickson was called up from Triple-A Memphis to take his roster spot as a long reliever in the bullpen.

The Cardinals also placed outfielder Allen Craig on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a left hamstring strain. Speedster Adron Chambers was recalled from Memphis to take his spot.