Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Taijuan Walker is likely to undergo Tommy John surgery after suffering a torn UCL, the team announced Wednesday.
Walker, 25, last pitched Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, only making it through two innings.
He was removed from the game with right forearm tightness. The following day he was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right forearm inflammation.
This is a brutal blow for both Walker and the Diamondbacks, as the 25-year-old owned a solid 3.45 ERA through three starts for the first-place Diamondbacks prior to suffering the season-ending injury. Assuming he undergoes surgery, Walker will likely be sidelined into the summer of 2019.
On Tuesday, Lovullo said Walker’s initial MRI showed a “UCL injury” and Walker would receive a second opinion in New York on Wednesday. He was originally placed on the 10-day disabled list on Sunday with right forearm inflammation.
“It’s terribly disappointing,” Lovullo said.
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The second opinion confirmed what the D-backs had seen from the MRI. Walker was on his way back from New York at the time Lovullo spoke and there were no details available for when Walker would have the surgery.
Teammate Patrick Corbin was out 18 months when he had the surgery.
“The one thing that I heard that made me think that the conclusion would be OK, that he would finish the outing and go on doing what he’s doing, was he’s felt something like this before,” Lovullo told Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station before the results of the MRI were revealed Tuesday.
“Once we got him into the dugout, we all started to feel a little bit more concerned. We saw it a little bit different and we thought, once again, we’re going to put Taijuan in the best situation to be safe.”
Lovullo added that the drop in velocity wasn’t initially concerning to him because Walker remained accurate.
The manager said the decision to pull the starter and place him on the 10-day disabled list on Sunday was precautionary.
“What I was told is that the velocity isn’t the main feature when somebody gets hurt and there’s a lot of damage done to the elbow — it’s the aim and the touch and the feel is to what mostly goes in the wrong direction,” Lovullo said.
The Dbacks said Matt Koch will start in Walker’s place on Friday against the San Diego Padres.