Padres starter Colin Rea has chosen to receive a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injection in lieu of Tommy John surgery, and will receive the treatment today. After consulting with three independent physicians, including Padres’ team physician Dr. Heinz Hoenecke and noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. PRP treatement is a less invasive process where blood is taken from the patient and processed in a centrifuge, then returned to the injured area with ultrasound guidance to accurately place the treatment.. The PRP contains “growth factors” and small proteins that aid in rapid healing of tissue trauma. This treatment is relatively new but has been proven to be safe and effective. It was first brought into the public eye when Kobe Bryant was travelling to Germany to have the procedure done on his knees, which prolonged his career. Between 2012 and 2014, Orioles Zach Britton, Chris Davis, and Dylan Bundy received the treatment for a variety of ailments. The following quote from Dennis Lin’s U-T article (link above) gives a fair assessment of the benefits and success:
Rea was traded to the Miami Marlins along with Andrew Cashner. During his first start with his new team, he experienced an increase in pain coupled with a sudden drop in velocity, exiting the game in the fourth frame.
He was returned to the Padres shortly thereafter, which may have contributed to an MLB investigation regarding the Padres’ disclosure of medical records prior to trades. The Marlins were interested in Rea as a back-end starter to help with a push toward a playoff berth, so whether he was out for a month or a year, his value to the team was lost regardless. Initial rumors suggested that Rea would need ulnar collateral reinforcement, AKA “Tommy John” surgery, which would have required at least a year of recovery, likely more, with a significant chance that he would never return to form. The election of PRP treatment could have him back on the mound as early as September, which gives him a chance to be in the Padres’ rotation next spring.