Chris Carpenter got the diagnosis he didn’t want to hear Friday: thoracic outlet syndrome. Still, he intends to forgo surgery and attempt to work through the nerve problem.
Kenny Rogers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Noah Lowry are a few of the notable major leaguers to have undergone surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, a compression of the nerves that can lead to pain in the neck and arm and loss of feeling in the fingers. Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb was diagnosed last year and missed the rest of the season. Surgery can involve the removal of a rib to take pressure of the nerves, but it doesn’t always.
Carpenter’s plan appears to be to continue his comeback and then undergo surgery in the offseason. He threw a bullpen session today and plans to throw again on Monday. Even if he does manage to successfully complete a rehab assignment and make it back to the majors, the odds would seem to be against him lasting the season. Still, as long as he can’t make things worth by trying, it’s admirable that he’ll give it a go.
Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will undergo Tommy John surgery, per an announcement on Saturday. Cotton initially experienced some elbow soreness during a Cactus League start earlier this week and was officially diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle on Thursday. He’ll be out of commission until 2019 at the earliest.
This isn’t the first time Cotton has dealt with elbow issues. According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, he had screws inserted in his right elbow after sustaining a stress fracture in 2013 and suffered some minor elbow discomfort again last fall. Prior to his diagnosis, the 26-year-old was poised for his third run with the A’s in 2018. He pitched his first full season with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.58 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 24 starts and 129 innings.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the team is open to adding pitching depth this spring, though they’ll wait to see if the price goes down on some free agents first. Barring that, right-handed long reliever Andrew Triggs could be tabbed to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.