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Wells Hurt

Kip Wells now has some mysterious injury that's being described, talking-point-style, as "arm fatigue."

If the Pirates actually know what this injury is, it would behoove them to be honest about it, because now the Post-Gazette finally has a beat writer who's diligent enough and independent enough from the team to try to find out what's actually going on. The Pirates sent Wells to a surgeon in St. Louis, which is so far from both Bradenton and Pittsburgh that you've got to think it's because the surgeon has skills that local doctors don't.

The surgeon has performed two operations on major leaguers, both to fix a condition called thoracic outlet syndrome, from which recovery takes months. Dave Littlefield describes the decision to send Wells to St. Louis as "precautionary." Well, we'll see, but the Pirates do have a history of telling reporters that the injuries to their players are less serious than they actually turn out to be.

Wells was horrible last year, but you should still care about this for at least three reasons. First, Wells is a talented pitcher who could represent an enormous improvement over his own 2005 performance if new pitching coach Jim Colborn can help him return to his 2002-2003 form. Second, Wells represents the Pirates' best chance of improving their farm system with a July trade. (True, Littlefield hasn't done very well in July trades recently, but still.) Third, a rotation without Kip Wells in it could mean a rotation with Ryan Vogelsong in it. If Wells is seriously injured, the Pirates could use the opportunity to see what Ian Snell can do, but I have no faith that they'll do that.

UPDATE: Here's a new Associated Press report. Wells does indeed have a blood clot and could miss the entire season.