Al Alburquerque has screw inserted in throwing elbow, out until at least mid-season

Al Alburquerque of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the ninth inning during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park on July 19, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Athletics 8-3.

The Tigers announced today that right-handed relief pitcher Al Alburquerque had a screw inserted to stabalize his right (throwing) elbow on Thursday.

Alburquerque underwent a surgical procedure to have a screw inserted into his olecranon to stabilize a non-displaced stress fracture in his right elbow. The procedure was performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. on Thursday, December 15.

The olecranon is essentially what we call the funny bone. It's the pointy tip on your elbow.

Alburquerque suffered from several injuries last year -- including a concussion after being hit in the head by a ball during the Orioles' batting practice while playing in Baltimore.

For 2011, he had a 1.78 ERA with 2.78 xFIP, and 13.92 strikeouts per nine innings.

People might be thinking of Joel Zumaya right about now. Unfortunately, the parallels just keep continuing. Both exploded onto the scene in the Tigers uniform, both suffered injuries that could be related to the incredible speed they were able to achieve on their fast balls as well as the breaking pitches they throw. In Alburquerque's case, a lethal slider, which is often hard on elbows.

Zumaya had a screw placed in his elbow as well, also "to stabilize the non-displaced fracture of the olecranon." Zumaya needed the screw after breaking his elbow in frighteningly painful fashion on the mound in 2010. He had the screw replaced in 2011. The fractures suffered by the two players, however, are not the same, MLB.com's Jason Beck says.

The Tigers say Alburquerque will not throw for 12 weeks. They hope he will be able to begin a throwing regimen toward the end of spring training. They target a return to action around the all-star break.

On Twitter, however, "The Injury Expert" Will Carroll said that the Tigers might be playing it a bit optimistic.

"That's pretty serious. Time frame's likely longer."

So we see even more why it was important to add Octavio Dotel to the bullpen. We also see that the Tigers have an opening in the pen. The recent acquisition of Collin Balester from the Nationals was said to be for the middle innings. The Tigers wanted a pitcher who could throw for multiple innings, too. So I guess we'll see if they decide to add anyone else or take care of this internally.

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