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Elbow surgery blamed for Burnett's lesser than expected deal

October surgery to remove bone spurs in his pitching elbow is blamed for southpaw reliever Sean Burnett's surprisingly low payday with the Angels.

Burnett, considered by many to be the best lefty reliever available through free agency pitched with bone spurs in his elbow during the second half of 2012. He's expected to make a complete recovery. But the uncertainty of his health apparently forced him to accept far less than fellow lefthander Jeremy Affeldt got from the Giants.

Affeldt was the first lefty reliever to ink a new deal this off-season. He accepted a three-year, $16 million contract to remain with San Francisco.

Burnett is expected to make a complete recovery. But I suppose some clubs believe that one elbow injury might be a sign of more to come. No word on if the elbow issues contributed to the Cardinals' decision to turn away from Burnett.

The Cardinals on Wednesday signed former Dodgers reliever Randy Choate, an extreme lefty specialist.

Choate, over the course of his 12-year career, holds lefty batters to a .201 batting average while righty hitters bat a healthy .279 against him.

It will be interesting to see what number Choate is assigned in St. Louis. Apparently, he isn't particular because he's worn eight different numbers in his major league career including 21, 32, 33, 36, 37, 38, 50 and 58.