By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun
Just when it looked like things were beginning to round into shape for Phillies relief pitcher Jose Contreras the bottom has fallen out from what was going to be his comeback from last year’s season-ending elbow surgery.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters today that an MRI of Contreras elbow revealed a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament and a flexor pronator tear in his right elbow. He has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. He said the initial indications say that Contreras is out for the year.
“We’re going to get a second opinion and send some of the studies to Dr. (Lewis) Yocum, who did his flexor pronator surgery just to get his thoughts,” Amaro said. “Unfortunately, we’re pretty confident that he has some very, very serious issues. We’re not sure what he’s going to do after that. We’ll know more after Yocum gives us his opinion on this.”
Contreras apparently injured his elbow during the eighth inning of Friday’s night game against the Miami Marlins. He had thrown five pitches and had a 2-2 count on Marlins second baseman Omar Infante when when he came off the mound grimacing in intense pain and favoring his elbow.
After spending the first nine games on the disabled list, Contreras compiled a 1-0 record with a 5.27 earned-run average in 17 appearances for the Phillies this season. Before this latest injury, Contreras was on a roll and pitching well for the Phillies. He had not allowed a run in his last seven appearances while allowing just one hit with six strikeouts over five and two-thirds innings.
“It’s unfortunate for him,” Amaro said. “I feel badly for him because he worked pretty hard to where he was starting to be pretty effective and it’s a tough piece of news to take.”
It was a similar situation last season for Contreras, who opened the season as the Phillies closer and was 5-for-5 in save opportunities. He did not allow a run in his first 11 appearances. He had a flexor pronator straing and was placed on the disabled list on April 25, 2011.
Contreras was reactivated in May and pitched in nine games with 9.00 ERA and was placed on the DL for what turned out to be the season with a strain in his right forearm. He had elbow surgery in September of 2011.
With surgery on the horizon again, Contreras, speaking through Phillies third base coach Juan Samuel as an interpreter, he said is disheartened about injuring his elbow again.
“I’m very, very disappointed going back to last year, ” Contreras said. “My command was there in my last four and five outings and to have this happen again is very disappointing.”
Contreras said he intends to come back next year and will have the surgery and work hard during rehabilitation to make it back to the team next year.
“Injuries are apart of the game, we’re going to rehab it and see how we feel,” Contreras said.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Contreras’ injury is a huge blow to the Phillies bullpen.
“He’s good … When he’s right, he’s got good stuff,” Manuel said. “His fast ball and his splitter are his two out pitches.”
Meanwhile, it looks Antonio Bastardo, who gave up back-to-back homeruns against the Marlins in the eighth inning on Friday and Chad Qualls, who allowed two homeruns in last appearance on May 27 against the St. Louis Cardinals. In his four appearances, Qualls has given up four home runs and five hits over his seven and one thirds innings.