A’s starter Jharel Cotton will seek a second opinion after receiving unfavorable news on his sore right elbow.
Cotton has been diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, which signifies a tear of the UCL. That’s typically a precursor to Tommy John surgery, which would sideline Cotton, who also has a strained flexor muscle, for more than a year.
The A’s hold out hope that Cotton will be back in action sooner than that, but it’s reasonable to assume he’ll at least be out several months.
“We’re looking for second opinions right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said, “so obviously not great news.”
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Cotton, who was 9-10 with a 5.58 ERA in 24 starts during his 2017 rookie campaign, was considered a prime contender to rejoin Oakland’s Opening Day rotation. His absence could strengthen Andrew Triggs’ chances to grab one of the three open spots. The right-hander has been in consideration for either a rotation or bullpen job and will get a start Saturday against the host Giants in split-squad action.
Cotton had a 3.75 ERA in four Cactus League outings, most recently firing four hitless innings against the Giants.
“We obviously don’t know the amount of time that he’s out,” Melvin said, “but he was pitching really well, and toward the last inning of that game, it looked like the velo was dropping a little bit, so we tried to be proactive and get him out of there, but obviously some issues.”
Because of the injury, Cotton won’t make his next scheduled start on Saturday. Andrew Triggs will get the ball instead, per Martin Gallegos of the Mercury News.
Cotton was in the midst of a stellar spring (3.75 ERA, 16 strikeouts) before Monday, when he left his start after four innings due to elbow soreness. The A’s sent him back to Oakland, where he underwent the MRI.