VIERA, Fla. – Nationals pitching prospect Sammy Solis has suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and will have season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The surgery will be performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum next Tuesday in Los Angeles. Yocum is the same surgeon who performed the same ligament replacement surgery on both Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.
Solis, who was drafted in the second round of the 2010 Amateur Draft, has been dealing with elbow issues since November when he felt discomfort pitching in the Arizona Fall League.
General Manager Mike Rizzo said after consulting with Yocum and Nationals team doctor Wiemi Douoguih, there was a difference of opinion, but an MRI revealed a “slight change” in the ligament. Solis passed all other test to determine if here was a tear.
“Because he passed all the physical test they put him through, they felt the most prudent course of action to take would be to have him rest for a month and then ramp him back up into a throwing program and see if we could avoid the Tommy John surgery,” Rizzo said. “So we did that and he came here and threw several bullpens and he was fine, but then he felt discomfort again.”
Rizzo was hoping the ‘rest and resume throwing strategy’ might result in the left-hander being able to avoid surgery, but in the back of his mind he knew there was a possibility.
“It was a concern after he pitched and then he was sore and then we had the MRI. I was a little more relieved after he passed his test and ramped up his throwing program and threw well. He felt good and I thought maybe we dodged a bullet there, but we always knew this was a possibility.”
The average recovery time for Tommy John surgery is 12 to 18 months, but both Strasburg and Zimmermann were back within the 12 month time frame. Rizzo is hoping success repeats itself.
“Dr Yocum is the same surgeon that did Strasburg and Zimmermann, so we feel confident he should regain his pre-injury form and we feel once he does, he will be a definite, positive factor for us.”
Solis pitched for both Hagerstown and Potomac last season, combining to go 8-3 with a 3.13 ERA. He was slated to start the season at double-A Harrisburg, and Rizzo says despite this bump in the road, Solis is a big part of the Nats future.
“He’s a terrific prospect. He’s got great stuff. We always thought after we drafted him he was a quick to the big leagues guy. This will derail that a little bit.”
Jayson Werth sat out practice today with back spasms.
Manager Davey Johnson said he wasn’t concerned, but said he will err on the side of caution with them being in the early part of spring training.
“It’s something I’m not going to take any chances with,” Johnson said. “I know he worked out a lot in D.C. He hit, worked out, so I’m not worried about him.”
Ask if this could keep Werth out of games once the spring schedule starts Saturday in Kissimmee against the Astros, Johnson said if he needs to take some swings, he can always do that on the minor league side.