Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson could not hide the disappointment from his face. Arizona’s skipper had just received the news that his ace left-hander, Patrick Corbin, had suffered ligament damage to his throwing arm. With Corbin injured, needing surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, the Diamondbacks coach will now have to decide who to send to the mound when Arizona travels to Australia to open the Major League Baseball season against the Los Angeles Dodgers next weekend.
Gibson says that the team obviously had planned on the 24-year-old lefty to not only play a major role in baseball’s opening game, but in the Diamondbacks’ entire season. Corbin now faces a 12-month rehabilitation timetable if he goes through with Tommy John surgery to repair the elbow. Gibson said that he will turn to the left-handed Wade Miley to start in place of Corbin.
The first sign of any issue for Corbin came in the seventh inning of Saturday’s spring training game against the Cleveland Indians. In the middle of an at-bat, Corbin sensed something was wrong and he signaled for Kirk Gibson and pitching coach Mike Harkey to come to the mound. The Diamondbacks’ young ace thought at that time that he was just experiencing forearm stiffness. He left the mound and the park and headed straight to Arizona’s training facility to be looked at by the trainers. It turns out that the forearm was the least of his worries. Corbin admitted Sunday that he had been experiencing forearm stiffness throughout the spring, but with the final three pitches he threw on Saturday the pain hit an all new level and he feared that he could be seriously injured.
At first the Diamondbacks’ catcher, Miguel Montero, did not notice anything unusual with Corbin. He said that he thought the young phenom looked pretty good, but after reflecting on the pitcher’s outing, he realized that something was missing.
“If you look at it, his two-strike counts, he couldn’t really put them away with his breaking ball like he normally does,” Montero said. He was just kind of floating out there and kind of backing up. (The arm stiffness) might be the reason why.
Corbin was 14-8 last season, his first full season in the majors, with 178 strikeouts in a breakout year for Arizona where he logged just over 208 innings. He held opposing batters to a .240 batting average and posted a 3.41 earned run average over 32 starts as he made the National League All-Star team as a rookie.
The left-hander joins a growing list of no-shows for the two-game series that will be Australia’s live and in person introduction to Major League Baseball. Already excused from the trip are Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Carl Crawford, whose wife is due to have a baby during the weekend series, and pitchers Zack Grenke and Dan Haren. Both starters are excused from attending the March 22 and March 23 games that are being played at Sidney’s historic cricket grounds.
Unlike Corbin, the trio of Dodgers’ no-shows that are skipping the international series are all expected to be available for Opening Day on March 31. The Diamondbacks are hoping that Corbin’s injured elbow will not cost the all-star the season, but it already is looking that way.
Commentary by Jeremy Mika