Spring training has been unusually cruel with serious arm injuries to young pitchers this year, and it seems like a new name is linked to the dreaded "Tommy John" label every single day. So far this spring, Luke Hochevar (Royals), Ross Stripling (Dodgers), shortstop Miguel Sano (Twins) and Cory Luebke (Padres) have been sent under the knife, and a group of talented young pitchers could be joining them very soon.
Monday is a key day for six young pitchers who could be headed for Tommy John surgery, so here's a look at the latest on each of them:
Kris Medlen (Braves)
Medlen, who was removed from his start against the Mets last Sunday after running off the mound in pain, is the safest bet out of this group to get Tommy John surgery. After an MRI last week revealed ligament damage in his elbow, he is slated to see Dr. James Andrews in Alabama on Monday and has begun preparations for the second Tommy John surgery of his career. Andrews, widely regarded as the leading expert on this type of injury, is expected to confirm that Medlen must go under the knife once again.
Brandon Beachy (Braves)
Beachy, Medlen's teammate with the Braves, was also removed from his start last week for precautionary reasons after feeling some pain in his elbow. A source confirms that Beachy will also visit Dr. Andrews tomorrow, and that he will "possibly" require his second Tommy John surgery after an MRI appeared to show some ligament damage. The source cautioned that "reading MRIs of existing TJ grafts is very difficult, so that's why Beachy needs to see the doctor to determine the next steps".
Jarrod Parker (Athletics)
Parker will also be headed to Dr. Andrews' office tomorrow, in what may be the busiest day of the doctor's famed career. The Athletics do not believe that there are any structural issues with Parker's arm, according to a baseball source, but are still sending Parker to Andrews so he can confirm their initial prognosis. Parker is likely to miss the beginning of the season with the issue, but a second Tommy John surgery for him is less likely than for Beachy and Medlen.
Patrick Corbin (Diamondbacks)
Corbin, 24, also seems destined for Tommy John surgery after an MRI revealed a tear in his UCL that will probably sideline him for the entire 2014 season. He will seek a second opinion later this week to confirm the diagnosis, but for now it seems as though he will definitely go under the knife for the first time in his career.
Jonathon Niese (Mets)
Niese's case is the newest out of all of them, and the most cloudy at this point. The left-hander left today's start with what the Mets called "elbow discomfort", and is heading to New York to get an MRI done before deciding on further action. Niese has been dealing with arm issues throughout spring training, and will be checked out to see if he will require surgery on his consistently-bothersome elbow.
Joe Wieland (Padres)
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, there is significant concern in the Padres' organization over Wieland's sore right elbow, and he will undergo an MRI on Monday. Wieland, 24, had his first Tommy John surgery in July 2012, and seems destined to go under the knife for the second time in three years.