D-backs' Hernandez has torn UCL
Reliever will seek second opinion before scheduling Tommy John surgery
PHOENIX -- Three days after their ace underwent Tommy John surgery, the D-backs learned Friday that their setup man is facing the same season-ending procedure, as David Hernandez was diagnosed with a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.
The hard-throwing reliever will seek a second opinion on Monday in Pensacola, Fla., from Dr. James Andrews to confirm if surgery is needed. If he does submit to the procedure, Hernandez will join Patrick Corbin, who had surgery on Tuesday, Daniel Hudson and Matt Reynolds as D-backs recovering from Tommy John. Recovery time typically ranges from 12-18 months.
"It's kind of deflating, but at the same time, you have to keep moving forward," Hernandez said. "I know it's a long process, but I have people around here to talk to. I guess Corbin and I will be hanging out a lot this summer."
Hernandez initially felt discomfort in his arm a couple weeks ago, but like Corbin when he first noticed something, the right-hander assumed the soreness was nothing serious and that he would be able to push through it.
Hernandez even thought his arm was starting to improve after he received treatment and threw an inning without issues vs. the Cubs on Wednesday. But the D-backs asked him to go in for a precautionary MRI a day later, which resulted in the unexpected diagnosis.
"I never heard a pop," said Hernandez, who isn't sure of the extent of the tear. "I just thought it was one of those things every pitcher goes through. I've pitched through discomfort before and it has gone away."
Projected to be the club's eighth-inning reliever, Hernandez threw well this spring after struggling in 2013. He reported to camp having lost weight and regained his confidence, going on to work 8 1/3 Cactus League innings, surrendering two runs while striking out five.
Now, the D-backs will need to turn elsewhere in their bullpen for a replacement. Potential candidates include past closers Brad Ziegler and J.J. Putz, along with another hard-thrower in Will Harris.
"It's disappointing, but we have to regroup," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I don't have answer for who will be there, but we do have some guys with experience in the back end. Our bullpen will have a different dynamic, but it's just another opportunity for someone else. We still have a lot of good choices."
Because of Hernandez's injury, it appears the D-backs will not need to make a roster decision this weekend to round out their bullpen. The club previously had more relievers in camp than spots on the team, but with Hernandez down, the bullpen will in all likelihood consist of Ziegler, Putz, Harris, Addison Reed, Josh Collmenter, Oliver Perez and Joe Thatcher.
Right-hander Bo Schultz is still with the team, but the D-backs prefer him as a starter. He has a 2.84 ERA over 6 1/3 Cactus League innings this spring and made his Major League debut in Australia by tossing a clean frame vs. the Dodgers.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.