Prospect Gonzales may need arm surgery

Southpaw has sought second opinion; type of surgery needed still unclear

Prospect Gonzales may need arm surgery

ATLANTA -- While the Cardinals wait to learn more about the short-term plans for Marco Gonzales early this week, manager Mike Matheny acknowledged on Sunday that surgery could be awaiting the left-handed pitching prospect.

Gonzales, who alerted the Minor League staff to elbow discomfort during the final week of Spring Training, recently visited Dr. Neal ElAttrache for a second opinion. General manager John Mozeliak said on Sunday that he has not yet received ElAttrache's diagnosis and treatment recommendation.

Matheny indicated that Gonzales, the Cards' No. 7 prospect, may receive a third opinion before determining a course of action. The Cardinals' team doctor has already examined him.

"I think there's always a chance, too, of having surgery," Matheny added. "There's some talk that that might be [under consideration]. There are a lot of voices that go into that decision, and the player is one of them."

It's unknown what specific elbow procedure Gonzales could be facing. If he were to need Tommy John surgery, he would miss the 2016 season and likely need 12-18 months to fully recover.

Gonzales missed parts of the 2015 season with a shoulder ailment. That limited him to one big league appearance and 80 2/3 total innings. However, Gonzales engaged in a normal offseason throwing program and spoke optimistically about his health and the year ahead while in Major League camp this spring.

The Cardinals anticipated having Gonzales, the No. 19 overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, as a key piece of their starting pitching depth this season.

Worth noting
• Shortstop Ruben Tejada has "been working out and feeling good" at the Cardinals' Jupiter, Fla., facility, Matheny reported. Tejada, who strained a left quad in the team's exhibition season finale, is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on April 16.

• The Cardinals expect most of their rehabbing players to join them in St. Louis on Monday so that they can participate in the organization's home-opener festivities. Lance Lynn (elbow surgery) and Jhonny Peralta (thumb surgery) are among those scheduled to appear.

• Making his first professional appearance since Aug. 6, 2014, Jeremy Hefner allowed one hit over five innings in Triple-A Memphis' 4-0 win over Colorado Springs on Saturday. Hefner signed a Minor League deal with the Cardinals this winter after recovering from a second elbow surgery. In Memphis' first three games, new starters Deck McGuire, J.C. Sulbaran and Hefner allowed a combined three earned runs in 15 1/3 innings.

Greg Garcia, who has reached base in three of four plate appearances coming off the bench, drew his first start of the season on Sunday. With Garcia's inclusion in the lineup, the only Cardinals position player yet to start this season is backup catcher Eric Fryer. Matheny gave Randal Grichuk his second straight day off to help Grichuk further unplug after a 1-for-15 start.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.