Someone once said that patience is a virtue.
At this point, there’s probably no greater believer in that creed than Diamondbacks’ left-hander Patrick Corbin.
Resigned to a grueling and emotionally-taxing year of rehabilitation, Corbin is coming off reconstructive surgery on his left elbow. Better known as Tommy John surgery, named after the first pitcher to undergo a procedure of removing a ligament from another part of the body and replacing a torn ligament in the elbow, Corbin is out until at least next April, May or perhaps later.
One of five pitchers on the Arizona staff recovering from Tommy John surgery, Corbin was expected to be a cornerstone of the Diamondbacks’ rotation, and provide stability to what was considered a marginal group of starters. Instead, he is confined for now to the trainers’ room and cheering for his teammates from the dugout.
“Patience is the key,” he said Friday afternoon in the clubhouse prior to the Diamondbacks’ game with the Pirates. “We’re not rushing anything and taking every precaution.”
Coming into spring training, Corbin was considered the “ace” of a pitching staff in search of stability. Earning a spot on the National League all-star team last year at Citi Field in New York, Corbin picked up 11 wins before the break and went on to compile a 14-8 record and 3.41 ERA. He led the staff with three complete games among 32 starts and hit the durability standard of pitching more than 200 innings. His final season count reached 208 innings.
A few starts into his spring training routine this past March, Corbin reported he began to feel a residual pain in his left elbow. Thinking he could fight through the discomfort, the pain increased to a severe degree that in a pre-season contest against the Indians at Goodyear on March 15, Corbin knew something was drastically wrong.
“Sometime during the spring, I knew my arm was not right,” Corbin said. “I tried to pitch through but during that Indians game I couldn’t go any further. I called to the trainer and then that followed with an MRI.”
Once damage in his elbow was confirmed, Corbin said he wanted to best doctor to proceed. That meant Dr. James Andrews and in early April, Corbin underwent the procedure.
While Corbin reports he has regained the full range of motion and minor discomfort is limited to sporadic mornings, his rehab program is progressing on schedule and without complications.
“There’s no reason to rush (Corbin),” said manager Kirk Gibson. “When you have a surgery of this kind, there’s usually a one year rehab period. Next April or May, at this point, is a possible target date for him.”
For now, Corbin is looking at September 7 as a principal and significant date. That would be six months from his surgery and, at that time, he has “the green light” to begin throwing. Not sure if that means lobs or tosses, he indicated, but his throwing schedule is constructed by the training staff.
The program has Corbin throwing for two months and shut down for two months. Then, he would pick throwing again in January.
If Corbin is slowly recovering, Daniel Hudson, with two Tommy John surgeries to his right elbow within the past two years, appears ready to pitch to competition.
Hudson, who last pitched at the major league level on June 26, 2012 against Milwaukee, is slated to start this Tuesday night for the Diamondbacks’ rookie team in the Arizona League. Hudson will pitch one inning and then the training staff will make an evaluation.
If everything goes well and Hudson continues to progress, Gibson told reporters Friday afternoon that Hudson could appear in four to six games for the Diamondbacks this September.
A DAY OFF
On Friday, Paul Goldschmidt was given a rare day off in a scheduled game against Pittsburgh.
Timing was curious because Goldschmidt is hitting .462 in his last six games against the Pirates and .328 (21-for-64) lifetime against Pittsburgh.
“It’s only fair to give him a break, mentally and physically,” said manager Kirk Gibson before Friday’s game with the Pirates. “He pushes himself pretty hard and you can go only so far.”
Gibson said he approached Goldschmidt and said he would to give his All-Star first baseman a periodic rest. Ask what day would be referable, Goldschmidt told his skipper he would defer. So, Gibson made the decision to rest Goldschmidt for Friday night’s game with Pittsburgh.
Jordan Pacheco replaced Goldschmidt against Pirates’ starter Edinson Volquez at first base.