Good news has been trickling out of the trainer’s room and onto the practice fields. Three recovering pitchers have been making progress this spring.
From the U-T’s Jeff Sanders:
Still more than two months away from the one-year anniversary of last year’s Tommy John surgery, left-hander Robbie Erlin is throwing from the mound at 45 feet. It’s all fastballs for now – 25 to 30 – but the 26-year-old moved through the first three sessions without apprehension.
“Being hesitant is just going to force bad habits,” said Erlin, who last threw on Friday. “I’ve just gone into this as loose and free as possible and trusted everything was good. So far, so good.”
Much further out after his November elbow reconstruction, right-hander Colin Rea was cleared to start playing catch last week by Dr. James Andrews, while right-hander Carter Capps continues to progress toward a mid-March debut in games, most likely in back fields first.
The hope is that Capps — who celebrated the 12-month anniversary of his surgery on March 8 — still breaks camp on the opening day roster, Green said.
Robbie Erlin has been a highly anticipated prospect for what feels like forever, as he’s been in the organization since he came from the Rangers in 2011 in the Mike Adams trade. Injuries have cut each of the last four seasons short, most recently undergoing Tommy John surgery last May, but he’s hoping for a return some time around the All-Star break.
Carter Capps has been throwing live batting practice and has even made some appearances in minor league games, targeting Opening Day to be back up to full strength. With a fairly stacked bullpen lined up with healthy arms right now, there’s no need to rush Capps back in to service. Even if he feels ready, he could stay in Peoria for some extended Spring Training, and he has an option remaining which could place him in El Paso as he gets back up to game speed.
AJ Cassavell reports that Rea isn’t actually playing catch just yet, but the fact that he’s been cleared by Dr. Andrews five months after his November 10th Tommy John surgery is excellent news. He’s been all but written off for the 2017 season, so he can take his time getting his strength back.
Cesar Vargas was optioned to minor league camp last week, but he was effective in his two spring training appearances. He appears healthy from his elbow issues that shut him down last season, and like Erlin and Rea, the organization is going to let him take his time to stretch him out to a full starter’s workload.
A best-case scenario for the Padres would be for any of Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, Jhoulys Chacin, Jered Weaver, Tyrell Jenkins, or Zach Lee to find a new spark and become a candidate for a mid-season trade. The same can be said for Hand, Buchter, Maurer, and other bullpen arms. With healthy starters working back by mid-season, those trades would be easy to accommodate with minimum roster impact. Besides, these guys are all talented young pitchers who could factor into the next several years of Padres baseball, so let’s get those arms healthy and back on the mound for the long run!