If you’ve been eager for an update on the state of top Cubs prospect Brennen Davis’s ailing back, be careful what you wish for.
We finally got an update, and it’s not good:
Cubs top prospect Brennen Davis had back surgery yesterday, sources tell @chicagotribune. His timeline to return is unknown.
Details on it all here: https://t.co/ysoy6ayeIz
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 3, 2022
Dealing with what was originally thought to be a typical lower-back issue that would get better with rest, Davis has been out since early May. Before that, he had a rough start to the year at Triple-A, which, it turns out, was in part due to the lower-back soreness he was feeling since Spring Training.
That lower-back issue was, in fact, something more serious. Per the Tribune report:
Davis had back surgery in Los Angeles Thursday, sources told the Chicago Tribune. The 22-year-old outfielder went on the Triple-A Iowa injured list May 12 after he had been bothered by low back stiffness that traces back to spring training. The surgery revealed a cluster of blood vessels that caused back and leg pain. The vascular malformation pushed against a nerve, not dissimilar to sciatica.
All you can hope is that the surgery alleviates the discomfort without impacting Davis’s physical ability in unforeseen ways. The good news is that there were no structural or disc issues discovered in the procedure (which was apparently what they were expecting they might find). Still, any kind of surgery makes you nervous, and back surgery all the more.
(A sciatica, for those who are unfamiliar, is a reference to pain along the sciatic nerve, which goes from your lower-back down each of your hips and then down your leg. It is usually caused when that nerve is compressed by a structural issue, so, again, that’s probably what the surgery team thought they were going to find.)
Davis is still very young at 22, which should help with his recovery process and prognosis. But you’re just playing armchair doctor if you pretend to know how this shakes out, much less when it shakes out. For fan purposes, I think we can safely assume Davis is out for the year, and the entire season is just going to have to be looked at as a lost one. If he’s back before the fall or next spring, we can just be pleasantly surprised.
Speaking of which, Davis is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year, and I would assume the Cubs still plan on protecting him on the 40-man roster, even if he’s not ready to play in – for example – the Arizona Fall League to make up lost at bats. I don’t think you can risk losing him for nothing, no matter how worried you are about the back. He’s far too talented, and if he does come back healthy – the article indicates optimism for a full recovery – he’s absolutely still going to be on the radar for meaningful big league contributions in 2023, and then All-Star upside from there.
In other words, we can reasonably hope this is just a setback. A long, really unfortunate and ill-timed setback. More information whenever it’s available.
As I type, Sahadev Sharma dropped his report on the topic, which confirms that a return this season is “in doubt”:
Breaking news: Sources tell me that Cubs' top prospect Brennen Davis has undergone back surgery. Returning this season is in doubt, but a full recovery is expected and there is no structural damage or disc issues. https://t.co/O6gCNIl9Wx
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) June 3, 2022
More positivity in there, though, about this being a best-case scenario as far as back surgeries go, and optimism that he’ll make a full recovery. There is a follow-up next week, so there might be more information then on how things are going.