PHOENIX – From shoulder inflammation to elbow soreness to muscle strains, injuries among pitchers are common. One that is not? Blood clots.
The Diamondbacks’ Merrill Kelly was placed on the 15-day IL retroactive to Sunday, after he felt discomfort in his leg following his Saturday start against the San Francisco Giants.
The discomfort was nothing compared to the blood clot Kelly endured in 2020, where the discoloration of his shoulder revealed thoracic outlet syndrome and would require surgery to remove his first rib, which would alleviate pressure on the nerves formed by the blood clot.
“I think we caught this at the right time,” manager Torey Lovullo said Tuesday. “I don’t want to put a timetable on it. It’ll depend on how he continues to progress.”
The team’s medical staff determined the inflammation in his leg could possibly be a blood clot and sent him in for additional testing. The small clot is treatable without surgery and should start improving with blood thinner medication.
“There was no procedure involved with the blood clot,” Lovullo said. “He is already feeling good and we are encouraged by the early progress but he has a way to go.”
Former Diamondbacks relief pitcher Ian Kennedy suffered a similar injury to Kelly’s last year. Kennedy only missed 18 days but because Kelly is a starter, he might need more time to recover.
Kelly has played at an All-Star caliber level this season as his 3.22 ERA and nine wins both rank among the top 10 in the National League. The Diamondbacks recalled rookie Brandon Pfaadt to take Kelly’s spot in the starting rotation.
“I wish Merrill all the best. He is awesome on and off the field,” Pfaadt said. “On the field I am going to try and pick him up and try and have his back through this time.”
Pfaadt struggled in his return Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays, giving up six earned runs in just two innings pitched. The Diamondbacks will likely give Pfaadt one more start as Kelly isn’t eligible to return until after the All-Star break.
The break would give the team an extra four days off as Kelly continues to rehab. The team will return from the break July 14, and Kelly could make his return to the rotation then.
“Kelly is an extreme leader to everybody on this pitching staff,” pitcher Tommy Henry said. “I really can’t speak to the value of him and how he has helped me. It is tough, but we know he will be back healthy soon and continue being a huge part of our team’s success.”