Rehab or surgery: Diamondbacks right-hander Shelby Miller weighing his options
PHOENIX – For four days now, ever since right-hander Shelby Miller walked off the mound with forearm tightness, the Arizona Diamondbacks held out hope.
They were optimistic, as was Miller. At least, that is what they repeatedly told the media.
That optimism turned into reality on Thursday.
Miller suffered a forearm flexor strain and partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament is his right elbow during his start Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The injury may set him back several months or the remainder of this season and into 2018. The length of time will be determined by which course of action Miller decides to remedy the injury. All options are being considered.
“There’s all kinds of different things. There’s PRP (platelet-rich-plasma injections), stem-cell (therapy), Tommy John (surgery) is probably an option. It’s still so early,” he said. “I’m just kind of figuring it out, what’s out there, what’s available and what’s the best option for myself and my team and go from there.”
Either way, Miller will be out of the rotation for at least two months. He was moved to the 60-day disabled list Thursday.
Still, the surgical route is one Miller hopes to avoid.
“Never would I want to have to get that done. It’s just putting together what is best. How am I going to come back stronger? If I do other options, is there an opportunity that it might not work out and I’d eventually have to get it done?” he said, referring to surgery. “There’s options I have to weigh and think about. Like I said, it’s not going to be an easy decision for me. There’s a lot of people on my side that are here to help me with it, but right now, for where I’m at right now, in this case, I’m just rehabbing it in the training room and I’ll make a decision based on all the intake I get in the next couple of days or tomorrow, whenever it is. We’ll go from there.”
Miller underwent an MRI on Monday. After an initial examination with team physician Dr. Gary Waslewski, Miller flew to Los Angeles to visit Dr. Neal ElAttrache and then sent the MRI results to renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.
Standing in front of his locker inside the D-backs clubhouse, Miller wore the look of disappointment on Thursday.
“It sucks. It’s not good news. You never want to be put in this kind of situation. Never would you ever think it’d happen to you,” he said. “It is what it is. It’s just one of those things that you can’t really control. I’m pretty torn up about not being able to pitch for awhile.”
Miller is four starts into his second season with the D-backs, one he and others believed would be a bounce-back effort after going 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA in 2016.
Miller had won two of his first three starts before the 6-2 loss to the Dodgers.
“We’re going to find a way to get through this,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I know Shelby is the ultimate team player and I know weighing in on his consequences in his decision is what he can do to help this team as quickly as possible.”
Preferably this season. Miller, however, understands what’s at stake, both for him and the team.
“I want what’s best for all of us,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate news to have to talk about or even deal with. It’s the last thing I’d ever want. It’s not what I wanted to hear.”
— Already on the 10-day disabled list, Miller was transferred to the 60-day disabled list, opening up a 40-man roster spot for reliever T.J. McFarland, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Reno prior to the series finale against the Padres.
McFarland, 27, had made seven scoreless appearances in Reno, striking out nine and limiting the opposition to a .171 average (6-for-35). He was signed by the D-backs as a minor league free agent on March 2.
— At the moment, the D-backs are unsure how they’ll proceed filling Miller’s spot in the rotation. Right-hander Zack Godley made a spot start on Wednesday and then was optioned to Reno. With an off-day on Monday, the D-backs don’t need a fifth starter until Saturday, May 6 at Colorado.
Among those being considered to move into the rotation is Archie Bradley, who has a 1.26 ERA in 14.1 innings as a reliever.
“It’s easy to say that leaving him in the bullpen would be most beneficial to this ball club,” Lovullo said, “but where the strongest arise, we will fill the gap with the best option, and we’re still trying to figure out what that best option is.”
— Though not in the lineup, second baseman Brandon Drury pronounced himself ready to go a day after jamming his right knee when he landed awkwardly on first base in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s 8-5 loss to the Padres
“If it was the seventh game of the World Series he would’ve played today, but it’s unfortunately the last week of April and we just got to make sure we rest guys when it’s the right time,” Lovullo said.
— Elsewhere on the injury front, Lovullo announced several updates: outfielder Gregor Blanco (strained right oblique) joined Single-A Visalia; reliever Jake Barrett (right shoulder inflammation) will head to Visalia on Saturday; reliever Steve Hathaway (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to throw in extended spring training on Saturday; and reliever Rubby De La Rosa (right elbow) pitched Thursday.