Padres righty Colin Rea will forego Tommy John surgery in favor of a platelet-rich plasma treatment — at least for the time being — as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Twitter links). The decision was reached after consultation with Dr. James Andrews.
Rea is expected to rest for three to four weeks after receiving the treatment, and then begin a throwing program in hopes of staving off a UCL replacement procedure. That approach seems to be paying dividends right now for Angels righty Garrett Richards, and it seems that Rea has elected to follow suit after prior reports suggested he’d be going under the knife.
It has been quite an eventful couple of weeks for Rea, who was surprisingly dealt to the Marlins along with Andrew Cashner. He departed in the middle of his first start with his new team, paving the way for an even more stunning trade that sent him back to San Diego and more or less unwound that portion of the transaction.
Given the timeline suggested, it seems that Rea has designs on returning to the mound in fairly short order. He obviously won’t be ready to make it back to the big leagues in the present season, but perhaps he could join Richards in competitive fall or winter action before making a final call on his surgery, with plans for a normal spring build-up in 2017 if all goes well.
There’s still plenty of risk in taking this route, due largely to the recovery timeline in the event that surgery is ultimately required. Having the UCL replacement now might make a relatively full 2018 season a reasonable target, but if he waits and then ends up having the procedure, that could be jeopardized. Given the upside of returning to action in 2017, though, it certainly makes sense at least to see how his elbow responds to the initial treatment and rest protocol.