Reds shut down DeSclafani with UCL sprain

Reds shut down DeSclafani with UCL sprain

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani was diagnosed Monday with an ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his right elbow, and he will be shut down from throwing for up to four weeks. DeSclafani underwent an MRI exam in the morning in Cincinnati.

The news guarantees that DeSclafani will begin the 2017 season on the disabled list, but no timetable was given for when he will be ready to pitch again. He is scheduled to travel back to camp Tuesday.

"We're going to be working with him when he gets back to Arizona, and get a treatment plan in place," Reds general manager Dick Williams said.

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There was some sense of relief that DeSclafani did not have a fully torn ligament, which likely would have required Tommy John surgery and ended his season before it began.

"It's always scary when you have issues with that ligament. It's something you have to be real careful with going forward," Williams said.

On Feb. 23, DeSclafani first encountered elbow soreness after throwing to hitters in batting practice and missed his first start. But the right-hander was cleared on March 2 following an exam from team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek.

DeSclafani threw one successful side bullpen session but came up sore following his second time on a mound Friday.

"Obviously, any time you avoid the worst case, it's good," Williams said. "We were hoping that would be the case. Anthony says it still feels like something he could pitch with, but he knew something was wrong. When he threw his bullpen the other day, he felt something after a specific pitch. It correlates with what they saw on the MRI."

During Spring Training last year, pitcher Michael Lorenzen was shut down with a sprained UCL, and also did not require surgery. Lorenzen returned in late June, although his rehab was complicated by his contracting mononucleosis.

The Reds had two openings for their rotation entering camp, and now have three, with a majority of the candidates having little to no Major League experience.

Among the top prospects vying for the spots are Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Sal Romano, Luis Castillo and Rookie Davis. Tim Adleman is also in the mix, as is 40-year-old Bronson Arroyo as he tries to come back from two years out with elbow and shoulder injuries.

Garrett pitched four hitless innings in a 3-1 win over the A's on Monday while Arroyo, Romano, Castillo and Davis all pitched well during their outings Sunday.

Williams did not rule out looking outside the organization for help. The only two starters locked into the Reds rotation are Brandon Finnegan and Scott Feldman.

"I think we've got to digest the alternatives, and see what's out there," Williams said. "We're still very committed to seeing what we have here in camp. These guys have really done a great job with the opportunity that's been given to them. That whole group continues to perform."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.