ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- St. Louis Cardinal pitcher John Fulgham will undergo an operation for a torn rotator cuff.
Fulgham, one of the baseball's brightest pitching prospects, will be operated on Thursday in Los Angeles.
He was 10-6 in 1979 and 4-6 last year.
The 24-year-old St. Louis native had put off surgery and reported to spring training three weeks early in an attempt to overcome the injury, but he felt severe pain a few days ago when he tried to throw hard.
Fulgham will be operated on by Dr. Frank Jobe, who has operated on pitchers Steve Busby, Doug Rau, Wayne Garland and Don Gullett, among others.
'He could've been a No. 1 pitcher,' said Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog of Fulgham. Herzog and Fulgham said they were told it would be 18 months to two years before Fulgham could again pitch.
Fulgham has completed every game he has won in the major leagues and has a lifetime ERA of 2.84.
'I am disappointed and frustrated,' Fulgham said before leaving camp. 'I'm not going to kid you. I'm probably at an emotional low at this point. But I can't pitch. There is no other medical alternative.'
Busby, the first pitcher to be operated on for the shoulder injury, is trying to make a comeback with the Cardinals after being released by Kansas City. Garland, a former 20-game winner, was 6-9 with Cleveland last year. Rau was released by the Dodgers. Gullett, a former star with Cincinnati and the Yankees, has not pitched in three years.