A day after undergoing elbow surgery, Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright pledged he would return at full speed a year from now, meaning he thinks he'll be ready in spring training 2012.

"I'm a little disappointed, but, at the same time, I know I'm probably prolonging my career now by going ahead and doing this when I'm doing it," Wainwright said in a conference call from St. Louis, where he had the surgery.

"There was no way of getting around it," he said. "Both doctors that I saw — Dr. (George) Paletta and Dr. (Lewis) Yochim — gave me a 10 percent chance to heal without surgery, so it was something I had to do. Basically, the whole (ligament) was mangled."

Paletta, head of the Cardinals' medical team, performed the Tommy John surgery after consulting with Yochim, who is based in Los Angeles. Wainwright said that after being hurt, he immediately talked to righthanders Chris Carpenter and Kyle McClellan, who had the surgery performed by Paletta, as well former Cardinals teammate Jason Isringhausen.

Wainwright said he chose Paletta "because Dr. Paletta's statistics on this surgery are on par with the best in the nation and I can keep tabs with Dr. Paletta in St. Louis. It's a much easier task to run across the street instead of taking a five-hour flight."

Wainwright, who said he was sporting a cast and had his arm in a sling, said, "I feel good. This medicine they're giving me is working."

Early estimates had Wainwright being out some 12 to 15 months, but the righthander said, "Everything I've heard is that I'll be back full steam, full bore, ready to go, by this time next year in spring training."

Wainwright won 39 games, the most in the National League, the past two seasons with the Cardinals and had embarked on an offseason program designed to strengthen his shoulder so that it would protect his elbow more.