MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Doctors have confirmed that relief pitcher Keith Butler will have to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery to repair a tear to the ulnar collateral ligament.

Butler, the former Wabash Valley College hurler who is on the St. Louis Cardinals 40-man roster, was placed on the disabled list on May 14 after complaining of elbow discomfort while pitching for Memphis at the Triple-A level.

Reports indicate that Butler has since obtained a second opinion from former Cardinal team orthopedist George Paletta that confirmed the early speculation.

St. Louis General Manager John Mozeliak announced Saturday that the righthanded Butler, who was in the Cardinal bullpen on Opening Day, will have the surgery performed by Paletta. He is expected to be in recovery for 12-18 months.

Butler is the first Cardinal pitcher to undergo the surgery this year.

Mozeliak, at a Saturday press conference covered by reporter Jenifer Langosh, said the growing number of major league pitchers requiring Tommy John surgery has become troublesome for the industry.

“In the end, I do think there is sort of a usage issue going on, but I’m talking about way before we get them, maybe at the ages of 8 to 12,” Mozeliak said. “I also think there’s a slight correlation, too, on sort of the strength. Guys are getting stronger and more physical. It’s not country strong, it’s more weight-room strong. The body clearly can’t handle that torque on the elbow.”