The Iowa Cubs have revealed the nature of the injury that took top pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay out of his start last night – not something you always get at the minor league level – and it’s mildly comforting.
“Seems to be slight biceps soreness,” I-Cubs manager Marty Pevey told Tommy Birch today. If it’s just a little inflammation in the biceps that Alzolay was trying to pitch through, it would explain the dip in velocity as the start went on, and also could possibly explain the significant control problems he’s had since being sent back down to Iowa. It’s conceivable that the Cubs had him working on some mechanical changes that got him a little more sore than usual in unexpected areas, both of which – the adjustments and the soreness – threw off his performance. And then the soreness part went too far.
That’s just me doing some hopeful speculating, by the way. We don’t know just how long he’s been feeling something, or if it was a sudden issue last night. We also don’t even really know to what extent the elbow is implicated. Keep in mind, these kinds of preliminary evaluations often point to the biceps, forearm, or triceps, because they all connect to the tendons that work their way to the elbow, and short of an MRI, it can be difficult to precisely nail down where the pain is emanating from among the many, many muscle, tendon, and ligament structures in the middle part of the arm. We hear biceps and we think that part you flex to try to impress your date, but the discomfort often is actually down closer to the elbow for a pitcher. It can still be scary things.
That is all to say, this update is not terrible, but it was a seemingly mild lat injury that ended Alzolay’s season very early last year. We don’t really know much yet. Sorry to be a downer, but that’s how it is with minor league pitchers and arms until you actually see them back out on the mound.
As for the implications for the season, that too is a bit of a murky mess right now. Does this take Alzolay out of the mix for spot starts in the second half? For a bullpen stint? For an *effective* bullpen stint? Again, those are all legit questions, but you’re just not going to have answers – or even intelligent guesses – for a while.