The Elbow History of J.J. Putz

Amazing what a few minutes on Google can reveal.


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.


March 12, 2007, from

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

“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

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.


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

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

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.


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.


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.
  1. Regis May 15, 2009 at 3:31 pm
    I’d like to know how often similar articles are written about every closer. I mean, I had elbow issues after every high school start :p
  2. isuzudude May 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm
    If anything, this isn’t evidence of why the Mets should not have traded for Putz over the winter. This is evidence of why Jerry Manuel should not be burdening Putz with such a heavy workload. If people are so desperate to blame Omar for something, then blame him for not protecting his commodity and telling Jerry to relax on going to Putz in every close-and-late situation. There’s just no good reason why Seattle managed to keep Putz healthy and successful over the final 2 months of 2008 while the Mets can’t get him to be either in the first 2 months of 2009, other than overuse. Plain & simple, cut & dry.
  3. joe May 15, 2009 at 3:54 pm
    I choose to reserve judgment on this history.

    There are a lot of things said and done that can be taken a lot of different ways. For example, I found nothing about a bone spur nor a cortisone shot at any time prior to this week — though, not every injury and shot is reported in the media.

    Also I find Putz’s comments and judgment regarding his own ailments interesting. He sounds like he might be either the type who doesn’t want to admit he’s hurt, or doesn’t know his body as well as he needs to (I’m leaning toward the former).

  4. nwaldrop May 15, 2009 at 6:29 pm
    I wonder how much work is an appropiate amount for Putz this year? 06′ he pitched 78 innings. In 07; 71 innings. In 08 he pitched 46 innings with a 3.88 ERA. He had a hyperextended right elbow on the DL June 12 to July 20 but before that he had Right torso inflammation on the DL from April 2 to April 22.
    I see your point Joe in listing those news clippings. There’s definitly a pattern here and if the solution is for him to pitch less this year (40-50 innings) then that’s that and we should accept that.
    But if Omar and in extension, Jerry had expected to get Putz in 09 to pitch 70 innings then I think it’s obvious that there was a problem with Putz last year that was really never fixed and I think that signing him in 09 with an expectation that the problem is fixed IS an error in judgement on Omar’s part.
  5. John Fitzgerald May 15, 2009 at 7:45 pm
    Joe, you really can’t expect Omar to know all this stuff. He isn’t a blogger. He’s a GM. He has many more important things to do than read about Putz’s history of arm problems.

    For instance, he worked very hard this offseason to fix the bullpen. I imagine that took alot of time and effort, but I wouldn’t know. I’ve never fixed a bullpen before.

  6. mic May 15, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    1. Ok so mr hotshot:) now graph the DL stints vs innings pitched, add in a graph of velocity over course of season, with wins/losses and saves and we will know how long he can pitch before a DL/time off stint and how effective he is over that span.

    For gravy throw in by appearance; how many FB, curves, splitters he throws….

  7. 2009 Analysis: J.J. Putz : Mets Today October 19, 2009 at 12:03 am
    […] The Mets completely ignored an elbow issue that kept Putz out of action for over a month of the 2008 season — an issue which in fact was chronic and could be traced back to 2006. […]
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    […] Why else would a team send seven players to two different teams for a $7M player? Why else would they completely ignore a documented history of chronic elbow problems? […]
  9. […] pitch. But when a pitcher begins hurting, it’s shut down time. As in Putz case and from the timeline that Janish provided, it appears that the bone spur that Putz developed is something we see quite […]
  10. […] records? If they recieved accurate ones, they should have been concerned as it would look much like Janish’s timeline. Putz was apparently hurting enough when he arrived in camp for it to be an issue during his spring […]