NEW YORK –Brandon Beachy has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, an injury that usually required ligament-transplant surgery and a rehabilitation period of 12-14 months.
Beachy will see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on Wednesday, after Braves orthopedic surgeon Xavier Duralde examined the the pitcher and an MRI of his right elbow on Monday.
“I guess my optimism was for nothing,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, who had said Sunday and again Monday afternoon that he hoped Beachy had nothing worse than bone spurs and that he wouldn’t be sidelined for any extended period.
That notion was quashed when the report came in later Monday from Duralde, who examined Beachy late in the day after the doctor had completed several surgeries.
Even before the bad news came, Braves general manager Frank Wren had sounded as if he’d been down this road enough times with pitchers to know better than set his hopes high.
Beachy left his Saturday start in the fourth inning after feeling pain in the elbow when he threw a couple of curveballs in the dirt. He was pitching on three days’ extra rest after feeling what he said was mild elbow soreness after his previous start.
Beachy (5-5, 2.00 ERA) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday, and Jair Jurrjens will be recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill in for the major league ERA leader in Friday’s series-opening start at Boston.
A torn is a serious but common injury among pitchers. It usually necessitates ligament-transplant surgery — aka “Tommy John” surgery — and a full year or more of rehab.
Gonzalez had said earlier Monday that his optimism was rooted in nothing more than his “glass half-full” nature.
Wren was asked whether he shared that optimism.
“Not necessarily,” the GM said before getting the report on Beach. “Until you get a firm idea, I think we just have to wait and see. These things, you kind of have a sense of it when they happen, what the likelihood is of it being serious. It’s kind of hard to be real optimistic.”
Beachy retired all 11 batters he faced before a fourth-inning walk against Chris Davis, whom he walked Davis on six pitches, including an 86 mph fastball that was an alarming 6 to 7 mph below his typical velocity.
The Braves had bumped him back when he’d reported some soreness following his previous outing. The team did not have him undergo an MRI at that time, apparently because Beachy characterized the soreness after the previous start as nothing more than the day-after soreness pitchers get sometimes during the season.
Beachy has had occasional soreness from bone spurs in the past.
“We have guys who have bone spurs for seven or eight years and they never give them any problem at all,” Wren said before the partial-ligament tear diagnosis was announced. “So it’s an indicator that the elbow has had some wear and tear, but it’s not an indicator that anything bad is going to happen immediately.”