Padres' Blanks needs Tommy John surgery
Outfielder faces lengthy recovery after Friday's procedure
SAN DIEGO -- On Tuesday afternoon, Padres outfielder Kyle Blanks tested his ailing right elbow by attempting to play catch.
The pain in his elbow cut short that throwing session and instead led Blanks down a path he never wanted to travel -- Tommy John surgery.
The Padres announced Wednesday that Blanks will have reconstruction of the collateral ligament in his right elbow. Blanks will have the surgery Friday at Scripps Clinic under the watch of team physicians Jan Fronek and Heinz Hoenecke.
The recovery time, from what Blanks was told, is between seven and 10 months, meaning he will miss Spring Training and part of the 2011 regular season.
"I threw and there was no marked improvement," Blanks said of his abbreviated session Tuesday. "It was the same feeling."
Blanks, on the disabled list since May 20 (retroactive to May 18), with what at first was a strain in the elbow, felt stiffness on June 14 while on a rehabilitation assignment with the Triple-A Portland Beavers.
Blanks had been getting treatment on the elbow and up until Tuesday was hopeful that he wouldn't need surgery.
"We gave it enough time to heal on its own," he said. "We exhausted every option and took time with it. We went through all the possibilities and options and this is where the road led us."
Teammates and fellow outfielder Chris Denorfia knows what it's like to have a similar injury. Denorfia needed Tommy John surgery in Spring Training of 2007 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. He tore the ligament making a routine throw.
"The rehabs are fairly similar between pitchers and a hitter," Denorfia said. "You can start hitting at six months. With throwing, you're starting from scratch. ... It's a long rehab."
Blanks appeared in 10 games with Class A Lake Elsinore, hitting .270 in 37 at-bats with 12 strikeouts as a designated hitter before being sent to Portland, where he was tested his elbow playing in the field.
Blanks was the Padres' Opening Day starter in left field and was hitting .157 in 33 games before the injury. He struggled with contact, striking out 46 times in 102 at-bats.
"I think there's relief in the sense of we now known where this is going," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "It's disappointing, but it's reality."
Blanks sounded pragmatic more than disappointed on Wednesday when he met with reporters to discuss his impending surgery.
"It's not anything I would have thought would happen," he said. "But it's something that needs to get taken care of."
Torrealba's bat forcing Black's hand
SAN DIEGO -- A big chunk of the Padres' offense this month has come from somewhat of an unlikely source -- catcher Yorvit Torrealba.
Torrealba, who is riding an 11-game hitting streak, is batting .415 (17-of-41) in July with two doubles, one home run, seven RBIs and five runs scored. During that stretch, he has raised his average from .278 to a team-high .310.
"I'm just seeing the ball," Torrealba said. "I believe I have the same swing I've had all year long, but now I'm able to stay back a little bit longer and wait for the ball to come to me."
Torrealba kept his hitting streak alive in an unconventional way on Tuesday night, as he reached base on an infield single in the fourth inning after the ball ricocheted off of Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley.
"I thought it was going to be a ground-ball double play," Torrealba said. "Obviously, as soon as it hit off [Billingsley's] leg, I figured I definitely had a good chance to be safe at first. I just hustled and was able to make it."
Despite the offensive success Torrealba has had this month, he was out of the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the Dodgers at PETCO Park and has continued to split time with Nick Hundley. But that's because the duo has been a formidable one, as Torrealba and Hundley have combined to hit .310 since June 28, which would be the fourth-best mark by a catcher with at least 50 at-bats in the Majors over the past 30 days.
"For Nick and I, we're kind of used to it now," Torrealba said. "Sometimes there's going to be days where you sit down and think about it and say, 'Oh, if I played every day, my timing is going to be a little bit better.' But overall, it doesn't matter when you play, you still have to go out there and do your best."
Overall this season, the tandem of Torrealba and Hundley ranks fourth among catchers in the Majors in average (.280), hits (101) and RBIs (49).
But even though the platoon situation has worked all season, is it hard for Padres manager Bud Black to not ride Torrealba's hot bat?
"A little bit," Black said. "This started in April ... we have an idea as we move through the week [who's going to start which days], but those guys have been doing great. It's been well-documented that those guys have both been major contributors, and Torre has had a nice little streak at the plate."
Highly touted Padres prospect set for debut
SAN DIEGO -- Duanel Jones, the highly regarded 17-year-old third-base prospect from the Dominican Republic, is set to make his organizational debut in the next week for the Padres' entry in the Dominican Summer League.
Jones, who in late May agreed to a contract worth $900,000, has completed his 50-game suspension that occurred when he violated baseball's Minor League drug policy.
In December, Jones agreed to a $1.3 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. One month later, Jones' contract was voided after he failed a team-administered drug test that was part of his physical.
San Diego director of player development Randy Smith, who is flying to the Dominican Republic next week, said Jones physically looks like a young Adrian Beltre.
"We're anxious to get him going, [he's a] good-looking prospect and in our opinion one of the top hitters available on the international market," Smith said. "He's been working out daily at the [Padres' Dominican Republic facility] and watching our games.
"We have had him in some simulated games to try and keep him game ready."
In May, Smith said Jones is "6-foot-3, 195 pounds and has a great build, broad shoulders. He has good bat speed with plus-power potential, a plus arm and good agility for his size. I like the makeup, too. He's one of the premium offensive guys over there.
"He's pretty advanced as far as his approach."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Gina Mizell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.