Updates from Sunday, July 20
Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the next assignments Ricky Nolasco will participate in as he continues to rehab his elbow injury:
Nolasco should play catch at 120 feet on Monday. Could throw bullpen by end of week.— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) July 20, 2014
Currently mired in one of his worst statistical seasons at the major league level, it was revealed on Monday that Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco is dealing with an apparent elbow injury.
Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com provides details on the injury for Nolasco:
Ricky Nolasco has been dealing with elbow soreness and will fly back to Minnesota tonight to get it checked out by Dr. Steubs— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) July 7, 2014
Bollinger shared more information about the supposed recurring issue:
Nolasco met with Gardenhire and admitted his elbow has bothered him throughout season but was something he thought he could pitch through— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) July 7, 2014
Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press details what the next step is for Nolasco and he also spoke with a member of the Twins front office:
Nolasco, signed to a four-year, $49 million free-agent deal during the offseason, left the team on Monday and flew back to the Twin Cities. The Twins’ Opening Day starter was due to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Tuesday, when he will be examined by Twins medical director Dr. John Steubs.
According to Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony, Nolasco had not sought treatment from the club’s training staff all year. Nolasco mentioned the elbow issue during a Monday meeting with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson.
“After some coaxing he finally admitted he’s been struggling since spring training with a bit of a sore elbow,” Antony said. “He said he can’t get loose more than anything. Said it gets tight. Some days it’s better than others. (Sunday) he had a real difficult time getting loose, so we called it a day after two innings.”
The Twins signed Nolasco to a lucrative deal during the offseason, but he has yet to live up to the four-year contract. The 31-year-old currently holds a 5-7 record with a career high in ERA (5.90) this season.
In his final start with the Twins prior to the apparent injury, he gave up six earned runs in just two innings pitched. That final start sparked some controversial comments from manager Ron Gardenhire, per Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN.com:
It starts with him. He's got to do a better job. The bottom line is he needs to figure out something because today wasn't any good at all. He didn't do anything. He didn't locate anything. They were all over every pitch. We have to figure out where we go next. That's what we're going to do and do here.
Whether the injury is similar to the one he had in 2007 when he pitched in just five games before ending his season, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press provides more details:
Nolasco compared current elbow issue to what he felt in 2007, when he missed most of the year, Antony said.— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) July 7, 2014
In a year where several starting pitchers have gone down with elbow injuries, Zachary D. Rymer of Bleacher Report wasn't shocked by the report about Nolasco:
[Double checks] Why, yes, he is a pitcher and this is 2014. RT @MikeBerardino Nolasco sore elbow. MRI Tuesday— Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer) July 7, 2014
The Twins are scuffling late in the season. They're already nine games under .500 at 39-48 and well outside of the AL Central race. Though the status of Nolasco is not known at this point, they might be better off to allow him full time to recover from the injury.
Nolasco has shown potential during his career, but has clearly struggled this season. If the elbow issues really are the root of the problem, the three years remaining on the contract might be equally as rough if they push him to return quickly.
Looking up at surging teams like the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals, getting back into the race will be difficult. But with the way that Nolasco has pitched this season, making sure he returns to full health should be of the utmost importance.
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