CHICAGO -- Victor Arano, who was nearing a return to the Phillies bullpen, felt enough elbow discomfort during his last throwing session that the team scheduled an appointment for next week with one of the country’s leading Tommy John surgeons.
“That doesn’t feel like the concern right now. That’s not what we’re thinking,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said of Arano’s possibly needing elbow surgery, which would put him out for at least a year. “But to have him go get examined because he has a little bit of swelling and discomfort feels like the right play.”
Arano will visit renowned orthopedist Neal ElAttrache on May 27 in Los Angeles. Arano has been on the injured list since April 20 with inflammation in his right elbow. The Phillies, who are already operating with a bullpen thinned by injuries, believed that Arano had made progress and could join the team soon.
The righthander had a 2.73 ERA in 60 games last season with 60 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 59⅓ innings. He made three appearances this season, two of which were scoreless.
“I’m concerned because he’s concerned,” Kapler said. “Anytime that our pitchers have concerns, I’m going to be concerned right along with them.”
The Phillies will soon have to make a decision on Vince Velasquez, who is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday. He will pitch off a mound for the first time since being placed on the injured list May 11 with a strained right forearm.
Velasquez will throw another bullpen session after Wednesday’s and then, Kapler said, the Phillies will decide what to do next with him. That time line could give the Phillies enough time to see if a spot opens up in the starting rotation.
Nick Pivetta is pitching well at triple A and was named the International League’s pitcher of the week on Monday. He could be ahead of Velasquez in the pecking order for a rotation spot. The Phillies could return Velasquez to the rotation, place him in triple A the same way they did Pivetta, or move him to the bullpen. They have some time to weigh their options.
“He’s good,” Kapler said of Velasquez’s injury. “We’re in his throwing progression and building him back up. But there’s no concerns. No long-term concerns.”