Barrett to DL, but avoids surgery
Sprained elbow ligament could sideline catcher for two months
SAN FRANCISCO -- When Padres catcher Michael Barrett was told Tuesday that he had a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, he was not entirely sure what to make of the injury.Really, he still isn't. "I'm still not real sure the severity of what's going on," Barrett said by phone from San Diego on Tuesday night. "I've never really had any elbow problems before. But my body has sent me a message. I just feel like I have some wear and tear." Barrett injured his elbow sometime during Monday's victory over the Giants at AT&T Park and left for San Diego during the game, where he had an MRI on Tuesday morning to determine the extent of the injury. The news was good -- well, good in the sense that Barrett won't need Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his elbow. "It's anywhere from two weeks to two months," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. "It just depends on how things progress. It doesn't look that it's Tommy John surgery." Which is good news for the Padres, who recalled catcher Colt Morton from Double-A San Antonio following Monday's day game to take Barrett's spot on the active roster. Morton was already on the 40-man roster, meaning the team didn't have to designate a player on the roster to make room for a catcher. As for Barrett, he won't do any kind of throwing for the next two weeks and that only rest and rehab are in his foreseeable future. Even if Barrett's eventual prognosis of two months comes to fruition, the Padres were certainly thankful that surgery, at least at this point, wasn't required. "There's some thought that it might be a pre-existing condition, that this elbow might have been hurt before," Padres manager Bud Black said. "If that's the case ... that's a positive because maybe he just reaggravated it. "The prognosis in the short term is to have him rest and rehab, receive treatment the next two weeks and be re-evaluated again. If everything is improving, it can turn into anywhere from a four-week to eight-week rehab where he gets on a strengthening and rehab program. These types of sprains take up to six to eight weeks." The Padres had a fair idea Monday that Barrett could be lost for a while, Towers said. "We knew it wasn't going to be good based on the test the Giants' doctor did on Barrett yesterday. Once he came out of the game, he was in a great deal of pain, the numbness in the fingers ... those are all indicators of damage to the ulnar nerve or ligament," Towers said. Towers said that Barrett, who has never mentioned previous elbow trouble, mentioned to him that his shoulder was bothering him before Monday's game and that "maybe he was compensating for it and that put stress on the elbow." "It was a frigid day. I don't know how it happened; it was just one of those things that you experience when you know something isn't right," Barrett said. "I could barely feel my hand. I knew someting was wrong." With Barrett out of the lineup, Josh Bard will get, as Black put it, "the lion share" of the starts behind the plate. Morton would likely get a spot start now and then. Towers said that the Padres will give Morton a look for two weeks or so while they monitor Barrett's recovery. "We're not going to jump and sign a free agent right away," said Towers, who indicated that veteran Damian Miller was on their radar. "We've got some backup plans if things don't progress with Michael as we hope. "If it's a few weeks, it's something we think we can handle internally. If it's longer term, we might have to look externally as well." Barrett, for one, hopes it doesn't come to that. He was upbeat Tuesday after hearing what he said were "positive things" from the Padres medical staff. "We'll have to work through it," he said. "My body feels great overall. It's disappointing to have a minor setback like this. I've worked too hard to let anything too minor get in my way. It's just a large chunk of the season. But I'll be there cheering on the guys. I'll have my pom-poms on."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.