At long last, an Arodys Vizcaino update!
The 22-year-old pitching prospect who had Tommy John surgery in March 2012 came over to the Cubs in the Paul Maholm trade last year. Since then, he’s been rehabbing, but we haven’t heard much of anything about that rehab. In fact, we’d heard conflicting reports about where he was rehabbing – some had him at the Cubs’ facilities in Mesa, while others had him training with one of the minor league teams.
Whatever the case, Vizcaino is now in Chicago to continue his rehab, and is a couple weeks (or more) away from throwing in a game. Let’s imagine that Vizcaino returns in a month, and does so at some upper level of the minor leagues. Is that bad? Well, it’s certainly longer than you’d like to see a guy take to come back from TJS in the current era (late June would be 15 months post-surgery for Vizcaino, which is a very long time to return to minor league game action nowadays). But, given Vizcaino’s age, previous arm concerns, and the fact that nobody expected him to be an important piece of the 2013 Chicago Cubs, I would hope the Cubs are being extremely cautious with Vizcaino’s return. There’s just no reason to rush him, or even to hold him to a “typical” time line. Until someone gives me a reason to be concerned, I’m going to assume that the Cubs are just taking it slow because they can.
I suspect that Vizcaino has been brought to Chicago for a final look before he heads to the minors, so the Cubs’ brass can have up-close-and-personal input on where he should go, what role he should start out in, and what kinds of pitches he should be throwing at this point. If that’s true, then his return to game action in the minors really could be just a couple weeks away.
Speaking of Tommy John rehabs, remember Korean reliever Chang-Yong Lim? His signing this Winter sparked outrage for reasons that were never entirely clear to me, given that his deal was a Major League/minor league split that costs the Cubs only when Lim makes the big leagues, and gives the Cubs control over him through 2014. He’s been rehabbing his second Tommy John surgery in Mesa, per TCR, and just threw 25 pitches of live batting practice. That should put him pretty close to being in some extended Spring Training games, and, if that goes well, we could actually see him with the Cubs in the second half of the season. That assumes he’s effective and the Cubs decide calling him up (and paying him the Major League portion of his contract) is worth it at that point.
Lim’s recovery from Tommy John has been much more rapid than Vizcaino’s: Lim just had his second TJS in July.
As for Scott Baker, who had Tommy John surgery last April, and who suffered a setback in his recovery back in March, the righty still isn’t facing batters as he rehabs in Mesa – at least not according to any updates I’ve seen. It now appears extremely optimistic that Baker will be with the Cubs any time before July, making his $5.5 million one-year deal something of a sunk cost in a lost season.
Given the prolonged recoveries of Baker and Vizcaino, as well as a recent TJS-related setback suffered by pitching prospect Josh Conway, and Robert Whitenack’s struggles to come back from TJS (before being DFA’d), the recent anecdotal evidence points to picking up injured pitchers as not quite the silver bullet the front office has suggested, in words and actions, that it is.
Then again, it could just be more Cubs bad luck. Hopefully Conway’s setback is a small one, Baker’s arm-strength-build-up is a quick one, Lim’s debut is a good one, and Vizcaino’s return is a long-term-quality one. As for Whitenack … well … hopefully he finds success at some point.