Garcia likely to have exploratory surgery

Garcia likely to have exploratory surgery

Garcia likely to have exploratory surgery
WASHINGTON -- Though Jaime Garcia plans to seek out a third opinion on his ailing left shoulder, the Cardinals are expecting the left-hander to undergo exploratory shoulder surgery by the end of the month.

The surgery, at this time, is best described as exploratory, because the MRI exam of Garcia's shoulder is inconclusive. It shows that Garcia has suffered damage to his rotator cuff, but because of the nature of a static picture, it does not clarify to what extent damage has been done.

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"Because he's still feeling some discomfort," general manager John Mozeliak said, "they'd rather go in and see what might be bothering him than guessing."

That will come after Garcia travels to Birmingham, Ala., to meet with noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. Garcia has already had his MRI viewed by Cardinals team physician Dr. George Paletta and New York orthopedist Dr. David Altcheck. Both readings and opinions were consistent.

Garcia said he plans to travel with the Cards to San Francisco (should the team advance with a win in Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Friday), meaning that he would likely not be seen by Dr. Andrews until the middle of next week.

"It doesn't hurt to get an extra opinion," Garcia said. "This is the guy that has more experience than anybody. At this point, I don't know what he has to say. I'm just going to go see him. He'll take a look at me. He'll take a look at the MRI. I want whatever is the best solution to this for my team and for myself. That's all I can really hope for."

The Cardinals' stance is the same, though they also want resolution sooner rather than later. The recovery and rehab time from surgery could vary greatly. If the procedure is minimal enough, Garcia could be on track to be uninhibited by the start of Spring Training. More extensive surgery could cost him part -- or most -- of the 2013 season.

The organization wants some clarity as far as Garcia's timetable is concerned before the end of the postseason, so that it can alter its offseason plans, if necessary.

"In this case, waiting another week or two [to decide what to do] isn't the end of the world," Mozeliak said. "Regardless, we want some resolution no later than Nov. 1."

This marks the second time in five months that Garcia has been shut down with a left shoulder strain. He missed a little more than two months with the issue this summer, before returning to make nine regular-season starts. But Garcia lasted only two innings in his Game 2 start of the NLDS because of renewed discomfort.

Even if the Cardinals advance to the World Series, Garcia will not be considered an option to be added to the team's roster.