The Tampa Bay Rays’ ace pitcher Alex Cobb has a partially torn elbow ligament that threatens to keep him off the field not just for this season but maybe even all of 2016. The team’s first choice? PRP therapy.
Cobb is currently undergoing two weeks of treatment with platelet rich plasma, as well as resting up. After this period, he’s expected to try and resume pitching to see if the PRP therapy has been enough to heal the injury.
If not, he would likely to have to undergo Tommy John surgery, which would sideline him for most of if not the entire 2016 season.
Reports only recently started coming out that Cobb’s rehab was halted by a diagnosis of a partially torn ligament based on an arthrogram, which is a detailed type of MRI exam, when he visited the doctor where he also had the PRP injection, Dr. James Andrews.
President of operations for the Rays, Matt Silverman, has commented only that the team is currently in “wait and see mode” as a result of the tests and would have a formal announcement soon. Silverman said that discussing the possibility of surgery at this point was “premature.”
The team is continuing to evaluate what their next steps might be, according to Silverman. Currently Cobb’s main focus is getting back to the pitching mound, and hopes are he can do it this season, but they do not currently have a timetable.
Cobb has not yet commented to the media about his injury. The player has been on the sidelines since March 17, where he left a Clearwater game with an injury that was then called a strain or forearm tendinitis.
After several weeks of rest and doing no more strenuous activity for a few weeks than playing catch, by April 24 Cobb started throwing balls off a mound and was hoping to return to his team’s rotation by late May.
Operations president Silverman told the press that Cobb was progressing and feeling comfortable — he had even started “adding intensity” to his pitching — yet “something didn’t feel right.”
The team does not believe that Cobb experienced further injury during his rehab. The more detailed MRI arthrogram requires injecting dyes which can produce complications, which may be one reason the team waited.
Instead, the team has said they are continuing to follow the normal protocols for this type of injury, which started as a forearm strain. Since the forearm is so closely linked to the elbow, there are always concerns with forearm strains.
Pitchers who have remained active in spite of partial tears do have some history of success — the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka as well as Hall of Fame member Nolan Ryan, for example. To be sure there isn’t much risk for the Rays and Cobb to waiting a few weeks to see if the PRP therapy and rest helps heal the injury to the point where he can return at some point in June.
If he has to undergo Tommy John surgery, it’s not likely he’d return until past the 2016 season in any case.