The Elbow History of J.J. Putz

Amazing what a few minutes on Google can reveal.

2006

September 8, 2006, from The Seattle Times:

Putz began his Mariners career mainly as a starter. He threw between 90 mph and 94 mph, threw a fastball and a slider and a split-finger fastball he had trouble locating. His arm motion put extra stress on his shoulder and elbow.

Concerns with durability are long gone now — the Mariners tweaked the motion to relieve stress — but there were enough then to switch Putz from future starter to present bullpen.

2007

March 12, 2007, from MLB.com:

Right-hander J.J. Putz, recovering from tightness in his right elbow, threw from 90 feet on Monday and will progress to long toss on Tuesday, followed by a bullpen session on Thursday.

March 16, 2007, from MLB.com:

“Everything was fine,” Putz said. “It was a little sore, as expected, but when I started doing my other [postgame work], it started to hurt a little more. It was in the same area of the elbow as before, and that’s why they decided to have the MRI.”

March 17, 2007, from USA Today:

Seattle Mariners closer J.J. Putz has a mild right elbow strain, and the team should have him back soon.

Putz got a scare after feeling some stiffness in the elbow following a bullpen session earlier in the week, but the 30-year-old right-hander was set to throw again on Tuesday.

“We were never really too worried about it. It was more of a precautionary thing, anyway,” Putz said on Saturday. “I felt fine throwing my bullpen Thursday; it was just a little achy afterward. The pain went away as the day went on.”

Tests showed that the injury was a strain and nothing more serious.

Also on March 17, 2007, from MLB.com:

The diagnosis, made in Seattle by Dr. E. Edward Khalfayan, was a “mild flexor pronator strain.” … The flexor is the muscle that rotates the wrist and helps generate velocity.

March 18, 2007, from The News Tribune (Byline: Darrin Beene):

Here’s all you need to know about the health of the Seattle Mariners closer: J.J. got an OK from his MRI. Medical director Edward Khalfayan in Seattle examined the pictures of J.J. Putz’s right elbow on Saturday and said Putz has a mild strain of the flexor pronator. Trainer Rick Griffin described the injury as common among pitchers in spring training and that two or three Mariners have already had the condition and recovered from it.

March 26, 2007, from The Seattle Times:

… the faces of Mariners officials were tense and the answers terse Thursday, when Putz went out for his bullpen session that initially seemed an unqualified success. He threw well and felt great — until 30 minutes after he finished. That’s when his elbow tightened. Again.

“It was kind of like an achy stiffness,” Putz explained Friday before hustling off to his MRI. “They made it sound like that’s a good thing, just because that it’s showing it’s getting fatigued and stressed. As the night went on and this morning, it’s kind of gone away, so that’s good.”

Is this a full-blown crisis, or merely a false alarm? The Mariners are leaning heavily toward the latter characterization, but when MRIs and elbows are involved, it’s hard to rest easily until the pitcher involved is throwing free and clear.

2008

June 11, 2008, from The Seattle Times:

McLaren said this was the first he’d heard of any elbow problem involving Putz this season. Putz was sidelined for much of 2007 spring training with a problematic elbow, but both the closer and manager say they have no idea whether this is similar. …

While the possibility of an injury has been speculated upon before, the team kept being reassured by the fact Putz’s velocity was rising. Putz was still hitting 95 mph in Wednesday’s affair before being pulled.

June 12, 2008, The Seattle Times:

The Seattle Mariners say closer J.J. Putz has a hyperextended pitching elbow, a swollen triceps tendon and nerve irritation in his right arm that will keep him from throwing at least through this weekend. …
Khalfayan’s diagnosis is triceps tendon inflammation and an irritated ulnar nerve.
Putz will not throw over the weekend. He will be re-evaluated on Monday.

June 13, 2008, from MLB.com:

A MRI exam taken on Thursday revealed that the Mariners closer hyperextended his right elbow, resulting in “triceps tendon inflammation and an irritated ulnar nerve.” The exam showed no damage to the ulnar collateral ligament or the flexor bundle in his right elbow.

“I went into (the exam) thinking of the worst,” Putz said prior to the Mariners’ Interleague series opener against the Nationals at Safeco Field. “Everybody I have talked to that has had Tommy John surgery told me the first thing they felt was numbness in their fingers. I had that feeling and (Thursday) was pretty miserable until I got the results. Knowing that I don’t have any structural damage is a big relief.”

June 14, 2008, from The Seattle Times:

J.J. Putz’s arm still hurt Friday, his elbow throbbing even as he leaned against a wall outside the Mariners clubhouse to answer a reporter’s question about his second trip to the disabled list this season.

The Mariners closer felt better in one important way, though, after finding out his elbow injury would not require anything more significant than rest to heal.

“I’m very relieved that it was nothing structural,” Putz said. “Just take a few days off and start throwing again.”

Putz said he experienced numbness in his fingers after throwing a split-fingered fastball on Wednesday in Toronto. He left the game after that and will now wait until he is re-evaluated Monday before throwing.

June 28, 2008, from MLB.com:

Putz was eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Friday but will remain on the DL through the All-Star break, and perhaps deep into July.

He suffered a setback while playing catch in Atlanta prior to the Mariners’ second Interleague game against the Braves last weekend, saying he misunderstood the terminology of what he had been told by the training staff regarding the extension of his throwing arm.

He “snapped” his elbow when he threw, which aggravated the original injury, diagnosed back then as a hyperextended right elbow. The same pain he experienced on June 11, minus the tingling sensation in his fingers, returned last week and he said it didn’t subside until Thursday.

December 19, 2008, from the New York Post:

Putz said the elbow woes have healed completely and that he started throwing with no problems late last month. The bigger challenge, he admitted, will be adjusting to the high-pressure, high scrutiny atmosphere in New York after six years in laid-back Seattle.

2009

March 8, 2009, from SI:

Putz said he ramped up his workouts a couple of weeks earlier this winter to prepare for this competition. In fact, he said he’s throwing with the kind of intensity and polish he normally would not have until about two weeks later. He touched 95 mph against Canada and was clocked at 94 on his last three pitches to Bay.

“It definitely takes a toll on you,” Putz said. “I reached back, but the velocity wasn’t really there. That’s when you focus on locating your pitches.”

May 14, 2009 from the Daily News::

Putz had an MRI on Wednesday that revealed inflammation in the back of the elbow, which has caused a bone spur, Mets GM Omar Minaya said.

“He’s had this spur before, and guys sometimes play with it,” Minaya said.

Mets Injuries

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Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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