Surgery Required for Gwaltney

The year 2005 has seen a good number of Cub pitching prospects in need of surgery to repair various arm or elbow injuries. Right-hander Lee Gwaltney is the latest.

Gwaltney first came to the Cubs in March after he was released by the Philadelphia Phillies earlier in the year. He made 10 starts at Class-A Peoria, going 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA to start his season. The first of two promotions beckoned Gwaltney to Daytona, the Cubs' Advanced-A affiliate, where he made five starts before going into the bullpen.

At Daytona, Gwaltney appeared in 17 games from the ‘pen, holding opposing hitters to a .167 average and sporting a 1.04 ERA in 26 innings. A blister on his pitching thumb is what prompted the move from the starting rotation into the bullpen.

After another promotion, this time to Double-A West Tenn in late August, Gwaltney pitched in only one game for the Diamond Jaxx before being placed on the disabled list.

It wasn't because of a thumb blister, however.

"I ended up going to the doctor and they found I had a torn labrum," said Gwaltney, a sixth round 2002 draft pick by the Phillies. "They said it was probably from all the wear and tear, and that it's probably been torn for a while because I had some scar tissue. It got really painful toward the end because a cyst had gotten underneath the tear."

Gwaltney will fly to Chicago over the weekend and will have the surgery performed Monday. He was signed to a one-year contract last spring by the Cubs, who Gwaltney says are hesitant to offer a more long-term deal for the time being.

"I think they're waiting to see if I get through the surgery OK," Gwaltney said. "I think they want to make sure it's not worse than they thought before they discuss anything long-term. I talked to (Player Development Director) Oneri Fleita and he seems pretty positive. He wanted me to get the surgery."

Gwaltney becomes the latest Cub pitching prospect to undergo surgery this season. A few of his predecessors this year include Billy Petrick, Jon Connolly and Rocky Cherry.

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