Padres' Yu Darvish (elbow) shut down for rest of season

ByAlden Gonzalez ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 13, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- Yu Darvish's faint hopes of returning to a major league mound this year officially came to an end on Tuesday, when a stress reaction on the tip of his right elbow prompted him to shut down his throwing program for what remains of the San Diego Padres' thoroughly disappointing campaign.

Darvish, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 25, continued to experience irritation while playing catch from about 90 feet recently and decided to stop throwing in hopes of avoiding a stress fracture.

"Some players go out there and throw with a stress reaction," Darvish said through his interpreter. "I tried to throw, and it just didn't go the way that we wanted."

Darvish initially landed on the injured list with what was described as elbow inflammation. A follow-up MRI revealed that a bone spur -- and not the ulnar collateral ligament -- might have been the cause, a relief for someone who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015. Offseason surgery to either shave down his bone spur or remove it entirely has been considered, but Darvish, who had a cortisone shot in late August, will first give his elbow six weeks of rest in hopes that it will heal on its own.

A stress reaction ended Darvish's 2018 season with the Chicago Cubs prematurely, but he came back to make 31 starts the following year.

"Once he feels good and he's able to start throwing again, we'll evaluate that," Padres manager Bob Melvin said when asked if Darvish's most recent elbow injury could impact his availability in 2024. "But it's not going to be in the next couple of weeks here during the season."

The Padres finished July with the lowest starting pitchers ERA in the major leagues. But Joe Musgrove -- still throwing in hopes of returning before season's end -- then went on the IL with shoulder inflammation, and Darvish went on the shelf shortly thereafter, finally succumbing to elbow discomfort that had plagued him throughout the summer.

Darvish signed a six-year, $108 million extension in February, taking him through his age-41 season, and struggled through an 8-10 record and a 4.56 ERA in 24 starts in 2023. His last three outings saw him allow 13 runs in a stretch of 16 innings.

"August was very frustrating," said Darvish, his Padres now 10 games below .500 at 68-78 and eight games out of a playoff spot after Tuesday night's 11-2 loss to theLos Angeles Dodgers. "Pitching is my job; that's how I get paid. To not be able to do that, to not be able to get on the mound and pitch, there is a lot of frustration."