Will Anthony DeSclafani pitch this season for the Reds? It’s less than a sure thing.
In an injury update recently, C. Trent Rosecrans of Cincinnati.com shared:
RHP Anthony DeSclafani (elbow) was examined in Cincinnati on Friday and there was not enough progress to begin a throwing program, Price said. He’ll be re-examined in a couple of weeks, (Manager Bryan) Price said.
DeSclafani’s injury has been reported as a ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain of the right elbow. Of course, injuries to the UCL often result in the dreaded “Tommy John” surgery, a surgical graft procedure in which the ulnar collateral ligament is replaced with either a tendon from elsewhere from the patient’s own body, or the use of a tendon from the donated tissue of a cadaver.
There has been no official or even unofficial indication that DeSclafani is facing Tommy John surgery. But keep in mind what a sprain is. According to the Mayo Clinic, a sprain “is a stretching or tearing of ligaments — the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones together in your joints.” It’s the next worst thing to a tear, and as Mayo says, may even include tearing.
To be very clear, this is mere speculation at this point. But we have Homer Bailey, who has now had at least two surgical procedures on his pitching arm, who is getting ready to begin his throwing and rehab after a “cleanup” surgery in March. DeSclafani, who has not had any previous arm or elbow issues, won’t even be re-examined until mid-May.
It’s been around two months since DeSclafani was shut down in spring training. In March, Zach Buchanan of Cincinnati.com tweeted that DeSclafani’s injury is similar to the one which forced Michael Lorenzen to miss three months in 2016:
Team medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek said DeSclafani’s MRI was “very similar” to Lorenzen’s last year.
— Zach Buchanan (@ZachENQ) March 13, 2017
Presuming that is correct, we will hopefully see DeSclafani in July. The fact that there is no timeline to speak of yet, though, sparks a degree of concern because of the number of pitching injuries that have struck the Reds staff in particular the past two years. In this case, no news does not seem like good news.
When you ask yourself why Bronson Arroyo, Scott Feldman, and Tim Adleman are getting starts, remember that starters DeSclafani, Bailey and Brandon Finnegan are on the disabled list. This after 2016, when SIX starting pitchers were on the disabled list early in the season.
This year’s injuries have served to set back the development of the pitching staff. We’ve seen some folks pitching (Rookie Davis and Sal Romano, to name two) who aren’t yet ready. One of Dick Williams’ stated goals as part of the rebuilding roadmap is not to rush players to the majors before they are ready, and the injuries have forced some detours from that plan.
In the “year of sorting,” it was important to pass judgment on whether Bailey can or should be counted on as a starter moving forward, and that has been delayed. Now Reds fans must hope that the full extent of DeSclafani’s injury is more similar to Lorenzen’s than Bailey’s. The loss of a potential front-of-the-rotation starter would be dreadful for a team that has precious few of them at the moment.
Tom Mitsoff is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio. He lived a teenage life atypical of most his age by prioritizing following the Reds. At one point in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tom kept complete scorecards on more than 1,000 consecutive Reds games. Now that adult life has forced him to move on from his beloved Southwest Ohio, he follows the Reds daily through MLB.TV and other online media sources, including Redleg Nation.