Pirates' Wells has blood clot, season in doubt

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Kip Wells has
a blood clot close to his right arm, and his season is in jeopardy.

General manager Dave Littlefield described the clot as a "100
percent blockage" of an artery under the clavicle, the primary
vessel that carries blood from the chest to the arms.

The 28-year-old Wells told the team he still must determine
whether he wants to get a second opinion before having surgery, a
decision he is expected to make within two days. If Wells has
surgery, he would likely miss five to eight months.

Wells' condition was first detected late last week at spring
training and formally diagnosed Saturday in St. Louis by Dr. Robert
Thompson, a vascular surgeon at Washington University. Thompson
conducted an angiogram, a procedure that involves the insertion of
a catheter in the groin, to confirm his initial tests.

Littlefield said Wells' case never reached an emergency level,
as some blood clots do. But he added that the team acted swiftly
once its doctors noticed Wells had dramatically different pulse
readings in each arm.

"There's always a concern in regard to aneurysms, clots and
things like that," Littlefield said. "But we moved on it very,
very quickly."

Wells pitched a staff-high 182 innings last season and showed no
signs of the ailment until this spring, Littlefield said. Wells
complained of arm fatigue early in spring training, but didn't miss
any of his three scheduled pitching sessions.

"Players work hard in the offseason and don't want to have
setbacks," Littlefield said. "But I think he's anxious, too, to
get it resolved."

The Pirates were expecting Wells to be one of the top two
starters in their rotation. The right-hander is coming off a
disappointing season -- he was 8-18, the most losses in the majors,
with a 5.08 ERA. But he has performed far better in the past and
had encouraging early results working with new pitching coach Jim