PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Right-hander Brandon Cumpton, one of pitching's first responders last season who again was expected to provide the staff with depth, underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.
The elbow ligament replacement operation was performed by Dr. James Andrews, who on Monday had examined Cumpton after he was shut down after experiencing elbow pain while throwing batting practice on Feb. 28.
"Brandon has begun the normal recovery progression," said general manager Neal Huntington, alluding to the typical 12-18-month recovery period.
The Pirates split Cumpton's 10 starts in 2014, when he also made six relief appearances and overall went 3-4 with a 4.89 ERA. In parts of two seasons with the Bucs, he is 5-5 with a 4.02 ERA in 22 games, including 15 starts.
The bad news on the 26-year-old was slightly mitigated by the early showings of a couple of other young right-handers who could inherit Cumpton's role of providing insurance.
Casey Sadler, after a rough big league baptismal last summer (12 hits and nine runs allowed in 10 1/3 innings), has thrown five no-hit innings in two Grapefruit League starts.
Nick Kingham, a top prospect who split 2014 between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, blanked Tampa Bay on two hits for two innings in his only Grapefruit League appearance on Saturday.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.