GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani returned to Reds camp after a trip to Cincinnati sans a large black metal brace and the anguish that is usually associated with a major elbow surgery.
Instead, DeSclafani is beginning rehab for a sprained ulnar collateral ligament. Had it been a partial or full tear, the right-hander would have faced Tommy John surgery. Knowing that he avoided the worst-case scenario has him relieved.
"It's a month or two compared to 15 months or a whole year," DeSclafani said on Wednesday. "I'm so glad I will have a chance to get out there and compete this year. That's what I want to do. I guess that's good news."
DeSclafani, who was diagnosed with the sprain after an MRI and exam from team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek, will not throw again for four weeks. He will open the season on the disabled list and could miss at least the first six weeks of the season.
"It's definitely frustrating. I'm glad I know what's going on with it," DeSclafani said. "It could have been worse."
Last month, DeSclafani felt elbow soreness for the first time while throwing to Reds hitters. He immediately noticed it after he threw a changeup.
Following a week of rest and an ultrasound exam in camp by Kremchek, it was determined that DeSclafani could resume throwing. He had a successful first side bullpen session, but trouble returned during a second session ahead of his scheduled start Monday.
DeSclafani decided the right thing to do was notify the medical staff rather than trying to pitch through pain.
"I think it comes down to knowing your body, really," DeSclafani said. "I usually don't like saying things more than once, but you have to know your body and know the right move.
"I felt like this was the right move for me to say something again. I think it worked out. I could have probably done further damage to it if I tried pitching Monday or the next time."
Left to be determined is how the UCL sprain will be treated. DeSclafani could do what other pitchers with elbow injuries have done and get a platelet-rich plasma injection, or he could look at stem-cell injections. Both would help speed the healing process.
"We're still weighing those options right now," DeSclafani said. "I want to inform myself with those two options and rest and stuff like that. We'll give it a few days."
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.