Having been shut back down from his triceps rehab after feeling “pain” in what could have been his final bullpen session before returning the big league rotation, Yu Darvish headed to Dallas to see his old team doctor (with the Rangers) for another opinion.
That visit apparently bore fruit, but it’s something of a mixed bag. Mostly good. If you were fearing the absolute worst, it’s definitely good.
Per multiple reports, Darvish was diagnosed with an “impingement” in his elbow and inflammation, received a cortisone shot, and will be shut down for three to five days before resuming throwing. At that point, the Cubs and Darvish will see how things feel and proceed from there.
The good news is that there seems to be an explanation for Darvish’s pain, and it isn’t necessarily one that requires a serious surgery to correct. If the inflammation responds to the cortisone shot and reduces his pain enough to pitch normally, it’s possible Darvish could actually still be back before the All-Star break. Just being conservative, though, I would not call that likely. But even if that doesn’t happen, the second half of the season looks like a strong possibility.
The broader mixed bag caveat comes from having dealt with elbow “impingement” stuff in the past. I’m not a doctor, so I offer this only as a dude who writes about baseball, and I might be off on some of the finer, technical, medical points. Generally speaking, impingements, be they in the elbow or shoulder, just mean some things are rubbing or catching where they shouldn’t be. It’s a repetitive stress situation, and the irritation of the rubbing can cause inflammation and pain, and, longer term, can cause things that need to be addressed with surgery.
For example, when a pitcher develops bone spurs in his elbow, and they’re catching something in there on the throwing motion (which causes inflammation and pain, because obviously), they sometimes need to be removed with surgery. It doesn’t keep a guy down for a year or anything like that, but it is usually a multiple months, rather than weeks, situation.
That’s just one example, mind you. It’s the most common one I can think of in the pitcher elbow space, but again, I’m not a doctor. I do believe many other things can be happening in there that cause the impingement or are impacted by it, so it’s much harder for me to say what this could all lead to, or how easily it’ll clear up on its own when the inflammation goes down and the pain goes away.
I guess we’ll find out more in three to five days when Darvish starts throwing again.
From there, hopefully it’s all smooth sailing. But I don’t think we can say right now for sure that there won’t be other issues that pop up. For today, it’s just a “this ain’t the worst news” situation.