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Reyes could miss rest of the season

Reyes could miss rest of the season

CLEVELAND -- The Indians lost two pitchers to injury Friday night -- one, most likely, for four to six months and one for four to six weeks.

Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff updated reporters on the condition of the Tribe's walking wounded Monday. The newest members of that group are right-hander Anthony Reyes, whose right elbow problem appears bound for surgical adjustment that would end his season, and left-hander Aaron Laffey, whose right oblique strain will cost him four to six weeks of action.

Reyes' elbow was examined Monday by team physician Dr. Mark Schickendantz, who has diagnosed Reyes with ulnar neuritis and recommended that Reyes receive an ulnar nerve transposition. Reyes will visit specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles later this week to get a second opinion. If the surgery is performed, the recovery period is between four to six months, Soloff said.

"If [Yocum's] opinion is that he'd benefit from having his ulnar nerve transposed, that would be one of the surgical options," Soloff said.

An ulnar nerve transposition is not the same procedure as what is known as Tommy John surgery, which is a ligament replacement and has a recovery process lasting about a year. In a transposition procedure, the nerve is moved from the back of the elbow joint to the front to keep it from rubbing against the bone.

The elbow has been a regular source of frustration for Reyes over the past year. He was on the Cardinals' disabled list from June 9 to July 5 last season with right elbow inflammation. After the Indians acquired him in a July trade, Reyes made six starts for the Tribe before he was shut down in early September when the elbow flared up again.

After an offseason rehab program, Reyes was eased into Spring Training action, and the Indians had been careful with his pitch counts this season. But he struggled on the mound, en route to a 1-1 record and 6.57 ERA, and his velocity dipped a few ticks on the radar, from the low-90 mph range to the upper 80s.

Reyes was pulled from his start in Cincinnati on Friday after just three innings in which he struggled with his location. He was placed on the disabled list the following day.

Laffey went on the DL the same day with the oblique strain, which he suffered while working the eighth inning of Friday's game. Laffey was also examined by Schickendantz on Monday. The four-to-six-week recovery timetable is typical for an injury of this sort.

As for Reyes' and Laffey's peers on the Tribe DL, these were the updates provided by Soloff:

Travis Hafner (right shoulder soreness): Pronk was pulled from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus after three at-bats Sunday because of tightness in the middle of his back. The setback is not considered serious and is not related to the shoulder problem. Hafner returned to Cleveland and will take batting practice at Progressive Field on Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to Columbus later this week.

Joe Smith (right rotator cuff strain): Smith threw a 40-pitch bullpen session at Progressive Field on Monday. He'll throw a live batting practice session Wednesday, and, if all goes well, could be ready to go out on a rehab assignment with Columbus by the end of the week.

Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery): Westbrook will progress to three innings of activity in an extended spring training game later this week. If all goes well, he'll be ready to go out on a rehab assignment in the Minors in early June. Soloff said Westbrook would need about four or five starts in the Minors before he's ready to rejoin the Tribe.

Scott Lewis (left forearm strain): Lewis, who had a setback in his recovery earlier this month, is progressing through his bullpen sessions, throwing up to 35 pitches and using all his pitches.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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