The Arizona Diamondbacks are getting ready to travel to Australia for their season-opening series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. But before playing their final exhibition game and boarding the airplane, the team received news they didn't want to hear about scheduled opening day starter Patrick Corbin.
According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, an MRI revealed damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, which Corbin later revealed was diagnosed as a partial tear. The D-Backs and Corbin will seek a second opinion before making a final decision on whether to rehab or undergo Tommy John surgery, but this is clearly leaning towards a worst case scenario and a lost season for the pitcher Arizona was counting on to be their ace.
Corbin seemed to be rolling along just fine this spring until he took the mound for his final preparation for Australia on Saturday. D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson extended Corbin's pitch count to 100, which probably wouldn't be the case around this time in March if not for the early regular season start. After releasing his 91st and ultimately final pitch, Corbin knew something was wrong right away. After calling for the D-Backs athletic trainers, he quickly exited the field and not long after got in a car to head back to Scottsdale for an initial exam.
"He was pretty good," catcher Miguel Montero said of Corbin's outing. "I didn't really notice nothing at all. When he called for the trainers, I thought it was something like his ankle or groin."
Kirk Gibson didn't make a lot of the situation after the game either, suggesting the team had a good feeling it was nothing elbow related. There's rarely a good time to be wrong, and this certainly isn't one of those times for Gibson.
Corbin, 24, was an All-Star in 2013, posting a 14-8 record with a 3.41 ERA and 178 strikeouts over 208 1/3 innings last season. That's what they'll have to replace, possibly for the entire season. Arizona will replace Corbin in Australia with another left-hander, Wade Miley. Trevor Cahill is still scheduled for the second game.
As for how they'll replace Corbin over the long haul, that opportunity could fall to top prospect Archie Bradley. The 21-year-old right-hander was named the Southern League's Pitcher of the Year in 2013.
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