Dr. Rick Wright, who has served as a Cardinals Assistant Team Physician since 1998, will take on Paletta's responsibilities as Head Team Physician and will oversee the Washington University team of doctors that had previously been under Paletta's direction. Dr. Paletta will become senior medical consultant to the ballclub.
"We support George's decision to begin his own practice, appreciate his years of service to our team, and wish him much success with this new career challenge," said Cardinals' Senior Vice President/General Manager Walt Jocketty. "We are also very pleased to have someone with Dr. Rick Wright's experience and current knowledge of our players ready to take on George's duties as head physician for the ballclub. While we have reorganized our medical team, Drs. Paletta and Wright will work together to ensure the Cardinals organization and players continue to receive the best possible medical care."
Though no longer a Washington University physician, as a consultant to the team, Dr. Paletta will continue to be regularly available to Cardinals' players as needed or requested. "Although my resignation from Washington University has resulted in a change in my position with the team, I am grateful to the Cardinals for the opportunity to continue to provide my baseball medicine experience and expertise to the players. I am also pleased with the Cardinals' support of my decision to enter private practice and continue to provide outstanding orthopaedic care to the St. Louis community," said Paletta.
As head team physician, Wright will have primary responsibility for the players' medical care and will coordinate services provided by other Washington University physicians, working closely with the Cardinals' training staff, led by Barry Weinberg, and with Richard H. Gelberman, M.D., head of orthopaedic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Wright's responsibilities also include managing care of players in the organization's six-team minor league system.
Wright, also a member of the medical team for the St. Louis Rams and St. Louis Blues, is an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and a specialist in sports medicine and minimally invasive (arthroscopic) surgery to repair joint problems involving the shoulder, elbow, knee, foot and ankle. Wright is a native of Sikeston, Missouri, and a graduate of University of Missouri School of Medicine. He came to Washington University in August 1994. Prior to that he completed an internship and residency in orthopaedics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a fellowship at the Minneapolis Sports Medicine Center, where he provided care for professional and collegiate athletes. Wright received certification from the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery in l996.
"As an associate team physician since the beginning of our relationship with the Cardinals, Rick Wright is immensely qualified and perfectly positioned to oversee medical care for the players. He knows the players' health situations well and will provide a seamless transition," said Gelberman. "Dr. Wright is a nationally recognized sports medicine specialist and a leading researcher. Drs. Wright and Paletta have worked together with the Cardinals for seven years. We thank George Paletta for his efforts on the team's behalf throughout this period and for his service to Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and wish him well in his new endeavors."