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Reds’ Wohlers Has Elbow Surgery

July 7, 1999

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Reds reliever Mark Wohlers had elbow surgery today in an effort to salvage a career that has become untracked by control problems. He is expected to miss about a year.

The 29-year-old pitcher had a torn elbow ligament and was operated on in Birmingham, Ala. Orthopedic surgeon James Andrews and Reds team physician Timothy Kremchek grafted a tendon from Wohlers’ left forearm into his right elbow.

The former Atlanta Braves closer hasn’t pitched for the Reds since they acquired him in April in a deal that sent reliever John Hudek to Atlanta.

Wohlers agreed to the reconstructive surgery in hopes of rescuing his career, after a magnetic resonance imaging test detected the torn ligament last week.

He felt a burning sensation after throwing a pitch during his minor league rehabilitation assignment two weeks ago and became concerned when the elbow didn’t improve. That led to the MRI examination.

Wohlers got the final three outs in the Braves’ World Series championship in 1995, but lost his ability to throw strikes last season. Since his trade to Cincinnati, he had been pitching in the minor leagues in hopes of regaining his control and working his way back to the majors.

His elbow injury has thrown his playing future into doubt.

Wohlers set a Braves record with 39 saves in 1996 and had 33 the following season. He pulled a muscle in his left side early last year and lost his control in May.

He was sent to the Braves’ Triple-A Richmond affiliate twice to try to regain his touch, but never found it.

When the Braves tried to send him back to the minors, he declined the assignment, prompting the trade to the Reds. The Braves agreed to pay Wohlers’ $5.2 million salary this season and the $800,000 buyout for next year, the last on his contract.

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