D-backs’ Corbin has UCL damage, might need surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Diamondbacks will have a new Opening Day starter after an MRI revealed Saturday night that Patrick Corbin has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow that likely will cause him to miss the 2014 season.

Corbin said he will get his second opinion as soon as possible from renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. After that, he and the team will determine whether he will need season-ending Tommy John surgery or if he will be able to rehab the injury without surgery.

"I’m going to get a second opinion as quick as I can, and we’ll go from there," Corbin said. "This is all new to me. I’ve never been hurt before. I’m just trying to get through it."

Corbin, visibly shaken up as he met media Sunday morning, said he has felt a little tightness in his elbow for most of the spring but didn’t think it was anything more serious than fatigue. His last three pitches Saturday told him it was something more serious.

"Nothing until those last three pitches," Corbin said. "It just kind of felt like a small little shock in there. Nothing popped or anything like that. It was just a different feel that I wasn’t used to and just really uncomfortable. It just finally gave out."

Should Corbin have Tommy John surgery, he would be the third Arizona pitcher in the last year to need it. Daniel Hudson had Tommy John surgery last season after injuring his arm amid rehab from a first Tommy John surgery, and reliever Matt Reynolds needed the operation after reinjuring his UCL while rehabbing a partial tear.

Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius and recently traded outfielder Adam Eaton both rehabbed UCL injuries without surgery last season, but circumstances are of course different for a pitcher.

"We’re all disappointed just as he is," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "It’s a big blow to the individual that he’s going through this. Also for the team. We’ve all prepared for him to be a part of it. He’s just going to have to take the time to go out and get another opinion and make sure that we proceed properly from this point on."

Gibson said the Diamondbacks had no indications that Corbin was dealing with an elbow issue and pointed out that one in four major league pitchers needs Tommy John surgery in his career.

"It happens everywhere," Gibson said. "I think, just overall, if you look at that injury, it’s more prevalent. I think there’s a lot of people talking about and trying to think about why that is. I don’t think there’s a real clear answer to that."

Corbin’s injury made for a significant change for Miley, who as of Saturday afternoon was not scheduled to make the trip at all.

"I was 0 percent packed," Miley said. "But you know what, it’s one of those things where it’s really not a decision. You just do it. It’s for the best, and we’ll see what happens."

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Miley said his wife was up at 3 a.m. Sunday getting things together for the last-minute trip and was still in the process. Miley got the news he’d be going Saturday night.

"Obviously you never want to see anything like that happen to any of your teammates," Miley said. "It’s unfortunate. He’s a big part of this team, and it sucked last night when I got the news. But I guess it’s something you’ve got to deal with."

With Corbin out — for whatever length of time — the Diamondbacks will need to fill his place in the rotation. Gibson said Randall Delgado and top prospect Archie Bradley will be the candidates, and general manager Kevin Towers suggested that long reliever Josh Collmenter could somehow factor in.

Towers also didn’t rule out the possibility of adding a pitcher via trade but seemed ready to move forward with an in-house candidate.

"If a deal presents itself that could add to that depth, we’ll look at that," Towers said. "But we don’t have a lot of time right now, and it’s going to be tough to do a lot of trade business from Sydney. I would say that for right now, probably Delgado, Collmenter and Archie are the guys we’re looking for, at least temporarily."

Corbin’s injury is just the latest to the D-backs’ rotation this spring. Trevor Cahill suffered a jammed knee in his last start but started Sunday without issue, and Bronson Arroyo is battling a bulging disc in his back but threw a 50-pitch bullpen session Sunday and could be ready to make his first start.

"He felt great, threw it a little bit extra," Gibson said of Arroyo.

Gibson added that Arroyo is slated to throw a three-inning simulated game Wednesday and then could pitch in a Cactus League game March 24.

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