When Seth Maness shut his eyes before a surgeon opened his right elbow, the former Cardinals reliever was not sure what awaited him on the other side of sleep. The troublesome ligament in his throwing arm had to be fixed and a complete reconstruction would mean missing an entire season.
He went under unsure.
He woke up a potential trailblazer.
Maness is a week away from returning to the mound and expects to be ready for opening day, just 7½ months after surgery, because Dr. George Paletta performed a repair that could eventually prove to be an alternative to Tommy John surgery for select big-league pitchers.