The bad news on the Arizona Diamondbacks’ injury front got worse Friday when news broke that center fielder Adam Eaton is out six to eight weeks with a UCL sprain in his left elbow.
Eaton was removed from Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers after a head-first slide into third base. But Eaton said the injury initially occurred more than two weeks ago when working with other players on shortening his throwing motion.
“It just didn’t feel right that night and the next day, and of course, you try to play through it as a competitor. You don’t want to be in the training room at all and get that type of attention,” Eaton said. “A couple that I talked to kind of talked me into going in and getting it checked and I was still thinking it was nothing.”
Eaton did play through the injury until Thursday when he had an MRI performed by Dr. Michael Lee.
Diamondbacks general manager laid out the hopeful timetable on Eaton’s return.
“We’d given him two days off. (Thursday) on a throw or two, he still felt a little bit of discomfort. We thought we’d get an MRI just to err on the side of being cautious. The MRI results showed that there was a strain. In the left elbow, there is a very, very small tear of one of the fibers around the UCL — probably very similar to what Didi Gregorius had. It’s a grade one strain, probably not as bad what Gregorius had. No surgical procedure, our thought process is to shut him down for four weeks of no throwing and then hopefully we get him back best-case scenario probably in about six weeks to two months. We’re hoping for the mid-part of April, but it could be the first of June.”
Eaton, who’s known for his all-out style of play, is treating his rehabilitation in the same manner.
“I’m going to do it at all costs to get back quicker,” Eaton said. “I put all my faith in the doctors, but at the same time there’s kind of, for me, an aspect of trying to come back a little sooner and try to push things a little bit.
“We’ll be smart with it, of course, we’re not going to do anything stupid with it, but I’m definitely going to try and have a speedy recovery.”
With outfielder Cody Ross (calf) also doubtful to be in playing shape by opening day on April 1, the Arizona outfield looks like it will be comprised of Jason Kubel, A.J. Pollock and Gerardo Parra to start the season.
Eaton entered the season as the 73rd-rated prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America. The 23-year-old was batting .390 with two home runs and five runs batted in this spring, and was being counted on to provide the Diamondbacks with a steady presence in the leadoff spot.
This will not be the first time Eaton misses time due to an injury. A September call-up last year, he appeared in 22 games before breaking his right hand.