The Chicago Cubs chances in the National League Central Division just became a little better. The St. Louis Cardinals’ ace pitcher Adam Wainwright will officially undergo Tommy John surgery.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed the prognosis Thursday at the team’s spring training facility in Jupiter, Fla. He said he learned of the news Wednesday night after the 29-year-old pitcher sought a second opinion in Los Angeles.

Wainwright felt stiffness in his arm after Monday’s throwing session.

Wainwright won 20 games last year and was runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award. His loss leaves the team with a big hole in what looked to be a stable starting rotation.

“It’s not a real surprise to us but certainly a disappointment,” Mozeliak said. “As we look to the future now we certainly believe we still have a strong starting rotation. Now we’re going to have to look to try to fill it in terms of a fifth spot.”

Manager Tony La Russa said Wednesday, before learning the severity of the injury, that he doesn’t expect the Cardinals to try to fill any void left by Wainwright through a trade or free agent signing.

“The answer is here,” he said of a group that includes Lance Lynn, P. J. Walters, Ian Snell and reliever Kyle McClellan.

The rotation for now appears to be Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook. There are few pitchers available on the free-agent market, with Kevin Millwood probably the best known.

The 6-foot-7 Wainwright went 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA last season, finishing behind Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay in Cy Young balloting while making his first All-Star team. His 2.93 ERA since 2007 trails only Halladay, and no NL pitcher threw more than Wainwright’s 463 1-3 innings during the past two seasons.

In 2009, Wainwright led the NL in wins (19), innings (233) and starts (34), winning a Gold Glove while finishing third in Cy Young voting.

Wainwright felt soreness toward the end of last season and he didn’t pitch in September. He had minor arm issues in 1998 and 2004.

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