It marked the fourth major surgery for House in the last three years.
House had two hernia operations and reconstructive elbow surgery in 2002. However, he bounced back last year to hit .288 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs in 92 games with Triple-A Nashville and also got into five major league games with the Pirates.
"It's not a career-ending injury," House said. "Freaky things can happen and people (sometimes) don't come back, but I feel confident that I'll be back. I've been down this road before."
House, 25, believes the injury dates to his days as a standout quarterback at Nitro (W. Va.) High School. House finished his career with the national high school record for passing yardage.
"It's just a surgery that came about from a lot of wear and tear," House said.
House figured to spend the majority of this season at Triple-A Indianapolis. The Pirates plan to go with Benito Santiago and Humberto Cota at catcher.
House also saw action at first base and left field last season in the minor leagues. The Pirates might look to shift him to one of those positions permanently now that he has had two arm operations.
"We like J.R., particularly his bat," general manager Dave Littlefield said. "He's had a rough go of it with injuries, but hopefully he'll be able to come back healthier and be able to show us some more production."