You might recall last week, when it was reported that Scott Atchison was going to see elbow-expert Dr. James Andrews in regards to the right-hander's torn ulnar collateral ligament. Generally speaking, a torn UCL results in surgery, but that isn't always the case:
Atchison will visit Dr. Andrews on Monday, August 6, and following that we'll know for sure if it's simply rest and rehabilitation that Atchison needs, or if it's time to open him up and perform a procedure that's become fairly common. The latter is very likely, but it isn't unprecedented for a pitcher with a torn UCL to be able to rest and wait for scar tissue to shrink the wound, either. It doesn't happen nearly as often, but there have been pitchers who were very effective after waiting it out, such as Adam Wainwright, who was diagnosed with a partial tear in 2004 that wasn't treated until the spring of 2011.
You just hope that it's rest and rehab that any pitcher needs, rather than a full-blown major elbow operation, but it's rarely how things work out in these matters. Atchison is in luck, though, at least for now, as Dr. Andrews recommended rest rather than surgery.
There's a chance Atchison is even back before the season is over, but it's all up to how the tear in his UCL responds to non-surgical treatment, and whether or not he's capable of pitching better than he did on his recent -- and aborted -- rehab assignment.
Given that he's already 36, and isn't even arbitration-eligible yet, one hopes that Atchison can avoid surgery not just in the short-term, but the long-term, too, as he's turned his career around and deserves that eventual pay day. Not to mention that, even if the Red Sox bullpen has enough depth to survive the loss of Atchison, it's always good to have more capable options on hand, rather than fewer.