Coming into Spring Training, optimism was incredibly high in the Philadelphia Phillies camp in Clearwater, Florida. The team had just come off an unexpected trip to the World Series. They signed arguably the best shortstop in the game in Trea Turner over the winter and boasted the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. Andrew Painter, as a 19-year-old, has a large presence with his 6-foot, 7-inch stature and his fastball that can touch triple digits. This young man made the national league home run leader dance for getting a hit off of him. His future is incredibly bright, and the Phillies have a ton of confidence in him.
And then reality set in. Throwing at such high velocity at such a young age is not normal. On March 4th, after his spring training debut against the Minnesota Twins, Andrew Painter felt some tenderness in his throwing arm, and Painter went to get some tests. After what seemed like an eternity, the results came back, and Andrew Painter had a UCL sprain. The Phillies are shutting him down until at least May of 2023. There is a chance it heals on its own, and Painter is able to pitch in the middle of the 2023 season for the Phillies, but there’s also the possibility that it doesn’t. Should the Phillies have him get the surgery now? Some people would say yes, he’s a young pitcher, and he will still only be 21 years old, likely when he’s ready to pitch again. The problem with that thinking is that it is not guaranteed to work. Tommy John could potentially derail his career in the long term. I believe the Phillies are taking the right course of action in waiting. Until the time comes, no one will really know what the right course of action actually is.