SAN DIEGO -- Los Angeles Dodgers rookie right-hander Rubby De La Rosa faces the possibility of season-ending elbow surgery after an MRI exam on Monday revealed a sprained ulnar-collateral ligament. A team spokesman said De La Rosa and the medical staff presently are considering a handful of treatment options, one of which would be surgery.
Even if De La Rosa were to decide against surgery, he could be done for the year. The Dodgers have only 54 games remaining, and De La Rosa's innings were being closely monitored anyway because he is considered such an important part of the franchise's future. Between the minors and majors, he has pitched 100 2/3 innings so far this season.
De La Rosa had been placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier in the day, one day after a lackluster performance in which he never seemed to find a rhythm and was lifted after having thrown a staggering 100 pitches through four innings.
The Dodgers recalled right-hander John Ely from Triple-A Albuquerque, where he is 6-4 with a 5.43 ERA in 19 starts this season in between what are now three big league callups.
Dodgers medical-services director Stan Conte said De La Rosa reported tightness in his elbow immediately after leaving the game, but that he initially had felt it while throwing a pitch in the third inning. De La Rosa saw team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who recommended he undergo an MRI exam.
Conte said the decision to put De La Rosa on the DL so quickly came because he likely would have missed his next start anyway. Mattingly said Ely initially will pitch out of the bullpen and that with an off-day on Thursday and De La Rosa's rotation spot not due to come up again until Saturday night at Arizona, the Dodgers might simply skip that spot. That would mean they wouldn't need a fifth starter again until Aug. 9 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
De La Rosa walked four batters, threw a wild pitch and gave up consecutive solo home runs in the second inning on Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Afterward, manager Don Mattingly said De La Rosa appeared to be out of sorts throughout his performance.
"He looked different, just his body language, and he wasn't working a quickly as he normally does," Mattingly reiterated on Monday. "His tempo was just off yesterday."
De La Rosa, the Dodgers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, is viewed as a cornerstone of the franchise's future. He has had an up-and-down rookie season since being called up for the first time on May 24, going 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 10 starts and three relief appearances. Even with Arizona's Ryan Roberts and Gerardo Parra connecting for back-to-back homers at Dodger Stadium, De La Rosa has given up just six home runs in 60 2/3 innings.
Meanwhile, Conte said reliever Jonathan Broxton, who has been on the 15-day DL for almost three months now with a bone bruise in his right elbow, tentatively is scheduled to begin a throwing program either Sunday or Monday. But Conte cautioned that if Broxton won't begin that program until he is feeling no discomfort whatsoever.
"Ninety-five percent of it is gone, but we need the other five percent to be gone as well," Conte said.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.