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Pirates' Wells will have surgery


Published: Wed, March 1, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


The Pittsburgh pitcher will have a vein replaced in his right arm.
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Kip Wells said Wednesday he will have surgery next week to replace a vein in his right arm, near where he has a blood clot.
Though is no established time for recovery, Wells said he would have a better idea after surgery, which is scheduled for Monday.
"Whatever it is, it's too much," Wells said. "I came in here throwing well. It's frustrating. I just have to hope for a speedy recovery."
Diagnosed last week
Wells was diagnosed with a blood clot last week near his right throwing arm. In the surgery, a vein will be taken from his leg and put in his chest to replace a vein that has become restricted.
Wells described his condition as a variation of the one that caused Colorado Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook to miss almost a year. Cook had a vein rerouted and first rib removed. He returned in July and went 7-2 down the stretch last season.
"Until they get in there, we won't know," Wells said. "They could think the clot would be this big and it ends up that big. They've narrowed the problem quite a bit, but there's still a spectrum of things that could be going on in there."
Wells said the initial plan doesn't involve removing a rib, but that could change depending on what is found during surgery.
Result of pitching
He said the vein being replaced has a combination of clotting, irritation and possibly scar tissue. Dr. Robert Thompson, a vascular surgeon in St. Louis who diagnosed the condition, said the ailment is the direct result of Wells' pitching.
In 2004, Wells was troubled by recurring numbness in his hand. After the season, he had a minor procedure called carpal tunnel release. He remained healthy throughout 2005, missing one start to a blister and cracked fingernail, and wound up leading the staff with 182 innings pitched.
He said he wasn't sure if the current ailment is related to any of his past injuries.
"I could have had this for a few weeks, a few months or 15 years," he said. "I don't know."
Arm began to feel tired
Wells participated in all pitching sessions in minicamp in January and this spring training. But that, he said, is when his arm began to feel tired.
"It's just been fatigued," Wells said. "It's been several different things at times, whether it's my shoulder that was sore, my biceps. Any muscle that requires blood in your arm has been tired at times in the past few weeks."
Wells led all major league pitchers in losses last year with an 8-18 record, but the Pirates were counting on him to be a key contributor to their rotation after signing him to a one-year, $4.15 million contract. The team didn't take out insurance on the contract.
Pittsburgh general manager Dave Littlefield said the team won't pursue additional pitching from the outside. The Pirates have two vacancies and identified five candidates to fill them -- Victor Santos, Ryan Vogelsong, Ian Snell, Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelanny.
"Nothing's changed," Littlefield said. "We'll see what our guys can do."
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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