It wasn't enough for the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox to face each other in a three-game series this week. Each team vied for the top injury headline Thursday, but in the contest no one wants to win, the Yankees appeared to beat out their rival when the day was through.
While Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia returned to Boston to have his right knee examined, Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain was learning the results of the contrast MRI taken of his right (throwing) elbow. According to ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes, Pedroia underwent an in-office exam with team physician Thomas Gill, who used a needle with a fiber-optic camera to look inside Pedroia's knee. The verdict? A bruised patella (kneecap), which Pedroia believes he injured in mid-May after taking a hard fall directly on the knee. He has been playing since then, but the knee had reportedly been bothering him more of late. While it's not clear whether Pedroia will take some time to rest the knee (he is back in the lineup for Friday's game), it appears, at least for the time being, that no surgery is required.
The outlook was not quite as optimistic for Chamberlain. According to ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand, Chamberlain's MRI showed a torn ligament in his elbow, a significantly worse prospect than the original flexor tendon strain diagnosis that landed him on the DL the day before. Both manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman indicated that Tommy John surgery appeared forthcoming (suggesting that Chamberlain's MRI showed a completely torn ulnar collateral ligament), yet Chamberlain acknowledged having no pain, just tightness in the elbow. In fact on Wednesday, the day after experiencing tightness following a throwing session which led to the evaluation, Chamberlain said: "If you asked me to pitch today, I would tell you I could pitch today."
While not all pitchers experience an acute injury of the ligament in the form of a sudden pop or jarring pain, most see something more dramatic than tightness, perhaps in the form of a drop in velocity or lack of command. Chamberlain's last appearance on the mound was Tuesday and there was no indication of a problem. Even the following day, he had what Girardi described as a "normal long-toss for him." Chamberlain's post-throwing tightness, however, led to further examination, followed by a fairly startling result. From the sounds of it, Chamberlain has a significant injury and the road to recovery is expected to be lengthy. The current plan is for some form of secondary consultation with Dr. James Andrews, after which a more definitive outline of next steps for Chamberlain should emerge. (Update: Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced Friday that Chamberlain will undergo Tommy John surgery Thursday, with Dr. Andrews performing the procedure.
Now, on to quick hits heading into the weekend:
• For those waiting to hear the verdict on Oakland Athletics pitcher Brett Anderson, you will have to wait a little longer. Anderson is expected to see Dr. Andrews early next week for a second opinion on his left elbow. Anderson has been evaluated by team orthopedist Dr. Jon Dickinson, but as the Oakland Tribune points out, the results of that visit have not been made public. Given Anderson's history of difficulty with his elbow (two DL stints last year and recent problems with velocity and command), there is cause for concern.
• Florida Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson is still limited to throwing on flat ground. According to the Miami Herald, Johnson says the shoulder is improved, yet he still has residual mild discomfort. It's worth noting that Johnson has not thrown from a mound since his last start on May 16, when a comebacker to his forearm forced him out of the game. He also exhibited a loss of velocity that outing, and after going on the DL, acknowledged feeling some discomfort in the shoulder for the better part of the season but said he had previously been able to work through it. His return has now been pushed back twice and there is no new target date for him to rejoin the team.
• Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer continues to make progress as he goes deeper into rehab games. He is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on Monday, but it sounds as if manager Ron Gardenhire wants Mauer to get some more innings under his belt. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Gardenhire would like to see Mauer get some time at Triple-A Rochester, which is expected to happen this weekend. On Sunday, the team will assess his status. Given the fact this episode has been attributed to Mauer trying to do too much too soon in spring training (following offseason knee surgery), the Twins will no doubt be cautious in moving him back to the majors. After all, they want him to play on a regular basis and not find themselves in the midst of a recurrent pattern. Still, it does appear that Mauer's return to the big leagues is now in sight.
• Meanwhile Twins reliever Joe Nathan is feeling better. After a successful bullpen session Thursday in which Nathan said his arm felt "great," he is expected to throw again this weekend after which, the Pioneer Press reports, a rehab assignment could follow.