Detroit Tiger relief pitcher Al Alburquerque underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his pitching elbow yesterday in Pensacola, Florida. The procedure, performed by Dr. James Andrews, involved a screw being inserted to stabilize a non-displaced stress fracture in the elbow. Alburquerque is expected to recover fully, and if all goes according to plan should be back in the Tiger bullpen in July.
Alburquerque took the baseball world by storm last season, featuring a fastball in the upper 90's and a devastating slider. As a rookie, he appeared in 41 games and had a 6-1 record and 1.87 ERA. He led all American League relievers with a .142 batting average against, and averaged over a strikeout per inning pitched. He missed quite a bit of time due to elbow soreness last season, and also was hit in the head with a line drive during batting practice before a game on August 12th which caused him more time on the DL with concussion-like symptoms.
The Tigers recently signed free agent right-hander Octavio Dotel to bolster their bullpen. With Alburquerque out of action until mid-summer, others will have to pick up the slack. The Tiger pitching staff appears to have enough depth to weather this storm. If Alburquerque returns to the form he displayed in 2011, opposing hitters will not be happy to face Detroit.