A Tale of Two Elbows

I am not a doctor.

No, this isn’t the beginning of a bad Star Trek joke. I’m really not a doctor. At least not a medical doctor. Of love however? Well, probably not that either actually. But we’ve gotten off-topic.

I am not a doctor so to speak from a medical standpoint is at best useless but in reality irresponsible. So I won’t. I’ll only tell you what’s happened this week as it pertains to elbows and the San Diego Padres.

Specifically, the elbows of one Cory Luebke and Max Fried. I thought about starting with the “better” news, relative as that is. I’m not sure which one is better news. As of this writing, the more recent news of Max Fried may be considered “better.” Then again in two weeks the Max Fried news could be just the latest in what is becoming a long, sad line of young Padres pitching prospects with elbow problems. But for now, let’s start with Fried.

It began with a Tweet, as is our time.

That link, since updated to change the report from “elbow soreness” to “forearm soreness” can be found here and is worth a read. I’m certainly not going to put words in the Padres mouth or assume the reason for the sudden change from “elbow” to “forearm” but a quick glance at Twitter moments after the above Tweet tells you everything you need to know.

You get the idea.

I’m not here to simply pull quotes out of Dennis’ article and I’d click the link above for more. However, one thing stood out to me that gives me confidence, cautiously though it may be.

Fried underwent an MRI in San Diego on Feb. 11. Byrnes called the results “benign,” adding that the soreness was of the muscular, not ligament, variety.

The MRI, and it’s results, are noteworthy when comparing this case to another promising Padre elbow that was in the news this week, Cory Luebke.

When Cory Luebke first reported an elbow issue it was called “tightness” as opposed to “soreness.” Maybe that’s simple semantics. That was on May 1, 2012. Per the North County Times, here quoted via RotoWorld, the Padres were not too concerned, much like now with Fried.

The Friars don’t seem concerned that it’s going to be a lingering issue.

By May 4th (a Friday), the San Diego Union-Tribune (again, quoted here via RotoWorld) had this nugget:

He went for an MRI Wednesday, and the Padres are awaiting the results.

The very next day, the story was this (North County Times, via RotoWorld):

Luebke had an MRI exam Wednesday and is considering Tommy John surgery. It’s clear his condition is far more serious than what was initially reported.

In 5 days the Padres went from optimistic this wouldn’t be a lingering issue to considering Tommy John surgery. The thing that changed in that time frame? An MRI, revealing obvious ligament damage to Luebke’s elbow.

Now, back to Fried. His MRI was taken on February 11th though he wasn’t shut down until February 20th. This certainly gives the impression that Fried was throwing in those 9 days and the symptoms he was experiencing (described as muscular in nature) did not subside, leading to the news of his shut down.

Had that MRI revealed the same or similar damage as was seen in Cory Luebke, the shut down would have been immediate and Tommy John would have already been mentioned. Hopefully we aren’t here in a few weeks talking about another young Padres arm going under the knife. For now, this feels more like the Cashner lat strain in July of 2012 and not the Luebke, Kelly, et al story. For now.

Speaking of Luebke and going under the knife, the seemingly never-ending saga that is Luebke’s elbow hit it’s next phase. Surgery number two.

Luebke will miss the 2014 season after a second MRI revealed a tear in his ulner collateral ligament. That surgery took place by Mr. Tommy John Dr. James Andrews. Once cut open, doctors had a clearer view of what went wrong. Per Jeff Sanders of the UT:

With a bit more descriptive report, Corey Brock noted:

Again, and I can’t hammer this home enough, I am not a doctor. I took to Twitter to ask whether a ligament graft not “taking” is an issue of the person’s biology (thus implying that a graft simply won’t take for whatever reason) or whether it was a surgical error in someway.


Potentially huge bummer and a great reminder that surgery, no matter how advanced medical science may be, is not a 100% proposition. Of course others have told me that the graft not taking is no indication that it won’t take a second time. Hope for the best using the best science in America. That’s where we are at with Cory Luebke.

Cory Luebke’s future may be bright.  And if there is anyone out there that I’d trust to repair my elbow and save my career, it’d be Dr. James Andrews.

Get well soon fellas.




I forget to write these a solid 50% of the time. I’ll get better. In the meantime I’ll be here on Fridays so stop on by. Or Tweet at me @LeftCoastBias or comment down below. I’ll be over here, stressing about the Arizona Wildcats sudden inability to score with March right around the corner. 


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  • TheNational PastimeBaseball

    It’s terribile what happened to these guys. I’m not well informed what went wrong in the first TJ For Luebke ? Thanx. Pietro from Italy

    • Geoff Hancock

      The ligament graft didn’t take for some reason.

  • “Yellow and Mushy” – my new twitter bio.

  • Billy Lybarger

    The only thing that concerns me with Fried is it sounds awfully similar to Casey Kelly.

    • Sac Bunt Melvin

      What about it?

    • ballybunion

      Actually, it sounds more like Tim Stauffer’s forearm soreness that led to surgery. That resulted in a much quicker recovery, judging by his performance last year.

  • Padres Prospects

    Not 100% positive, but I think you can’t throw for a bit after an MRI. Could explain the Fried timeline.

    • Geoff Hancock

      That’s interesting. I figured the MRI results are practically instantaneous. But I don’t know. Totally guessing. Still, at this stage anyway, it sounds more encouraging than Luebkes initial diagnosis.

      • Padres Prospects

        It’s not the results that take time. Usually for larger inspections you are injected with something to make the printouts easier to read. Byproduct is that the joint being examined is tender for a few days.