Big League Stew

Jorge De La Rosa’s season ends with torn ligament in elbow

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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The Colorado Rockies got devastating news Tuesday. Jorge De La Rosa, arguably their most consistent and reliable starting pitcher this season, and a possible All-Star, suffered a completely torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow during his start against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

That means his season is over, of course, and Tommy John surgery is coming for the 30-year-old southpaw.

The Denver Post delivered the word:

The Rockies and De La Rosa will regroup Wednesday to set a date for surgery. There's minimal swelling so the Tommy John procedure is likely to happen soon. De La Rosa has never had a shoulder or elbow injury, making Tuesday's abrupt ending even more jarring.

"Wow. I just feel so badly for him and the organization. There was nothing anybody could do about it. It's just one of those things that happens," agent Paul Cohen told The Denver Post.

De La Rosa was off to the best start of his major league career, having gone 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA in nine starts. Losing him now hurts the Rockies on several levels. {YSP:MORE}

First, they're in a tough spot right now with 2010 ace Ubaldo Jimenez still working his way back from thumb and leg ailments that have hindered his command and zapped a few MPH from his fastball.

Also, De La Rosa is Colorado's only left-handed starting option available to contribute at the big league level, which was a determining factor in committing $21.5 million to him over the next two seasons. There's also an $11 million player option for 2013.

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But putting aside the business of baseball, you just feel bad for De La Rosa. Here's a guy who appeared on his way out of the majors when the Rockies acquired him from the Kansas City Royals on April 30, 2008. De La Rosa was actually included in the trade as a "player to be named later" — that's how far his stock had fallen in Kansas City.

His stuff was always there. The arm was live, but consistency and mental toughness were barriers he couldn't seem to clear. A lot of young players and prospects never get over those hurdles, but De La Rosa did. Over the past three years with Colorado, he developed into a rock-solid second or third starter on a contending team. And he's done it with steady improvement on a yearly basis.

It said a lot for the Rockies to take a chance on him when they did. His appreciation and loyalty played a role in his decision to stay in Denver and forgo free agency. But it also says a lot for De La Rosa's talent, as well as the character and determination he has developed while pitching for their organization. Those blossoming attributes should serve him well as he battles his way back from a gut-wrenching setback.

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