The Arizona Diamondbacks were dealt another big blow on the injury front when the Dbacks announced that starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo will undergo Tommy John Surgery after it was revealed that he has a full tear of his UCL, or his ulnar collateral ligament. Arroyo, is the third Dbacks pitcher to undergo Tommy John Surgery joining starting pitcher Patrick Corbin, and reliever David Hernandez who tore their UCL’s before the regular season even started.
This is pretty stunning considering that Arroyo up until this season with Arizona, had never been on the D.L in his career. Arroyo went on the D.L on June 16th, but has struggled with health issues since spring training. Maybe his body at age 38 is finally catching up to him.
He believes that he tore his UCL during his May 13th start against the Washington Nationals in which he threw a complete game shutout and out dueled Stephen Strasburg. He continued to pitch that day with the tear. Arroyo talked about having to undergo Tommy John Surgery with MLB.com: “I just figured it would be a lot of swelling, probably my flexor mass would be irritated and it was, it had a lot of swelling in there as well,” Arroyo said. “But as soon as doc looked at it, he said, ‘Man, the entire thing is gone. It’s just not there.’ Which I was completely shocked about, because like I said, I’ve had pains like that before and I’ve always found a way.”
Arroyo who has been known for his durability in his career, tried to avoid surgery by resting the elbow for three weeks and then try to throw from flat ground but he couldn’t avoid the surgery. He spoke to MLB.com about his plan : “I fired it up the last three days and I could throw 120 feet and I could probably go out there and pitch, but it just won’t come back fast enough,” Arroyo said. “So I’d have to pitch every 10 days and take nine days to get it healthy. It just wasn’t going to work.”
Many believe, including Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson that his rehab wont take very long and that he will be able to pitch this time next year. Many however have speculated that at age 38 this might signal the end of his career. Arroyo doesn’t see it that way talking with MLB.com: “If this was the last year that I was going to play, I would just go gut it out and pitch and it would hurt and I’d try to find a way to win at 82 miles per hour, but I don’t think it is,” Arroyo said. “I think my body’s a lot younger than my age is. I think I’m probably closer to 32-33 as far as the way I feel in comparison to most guys my age. So I don’t think it’s going to be a problem coming back.”
The Dbacks signed Arroyo after failing to sign Masahiro Tanaka in the offseason. He signed a two year contract with the club and is owed 9.5 million next year, and there is a team option at 11 million for the for 2016 which does include a 4.5 million dollar buyout. The Dbacks acquired him for his durability and now he is out for the year. These things happen, but maybe it was a mistake to sign him at his age for that long even given health track record. With the Dbacks retooling for the future, I just wonder if Arroyo has seen his time at least in Arizona come to an end.