In news that was hard to stomach for the San Diego Padres, the TinCaps and their fans and most of all Chris Paddack and his family, Paddack was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right (pitching) elbow. The TinCaps' ace will undergo Tommy John surgery, a reconstructive procedure that requires 12 months or more to recover.
We caught up with Paddack for the first time since he was scratched a week ago today from a scheduled start at Beloit. Rated the No. 8 prospect in the Padres' farm system, he finished the year 2-0 with an 0.85 ERA in nine starts.
Here is the transcript of our conversation with Paddack.
Q: How have you coped with the situation as it all unfolded this past week?
Paddack: You know, man, I got the news that I have to get surgery. It is Tommy John. Unfortunately, that wasn't what I was hoping for. We prayed about it before the MRI. My family prayed about it. I put it in God's hands. Unfortunately we got a bad result on the MRI. But I'm just trying to stay positive. It was bound to happen some time in my career. It's better to happen now. That way I come back stronger in 2018 or whatever year it is I'm fully recovered and stuff. It's a lot better to happen now than when I'm in Double-A and knocking on the door of the big leagues.
The hardest thing for me is just knowing I'm missing next season no matter what. It doesn't matter how fast the recovery goes. I'm for sure missing next season. That's going to be tough seeing all my buddies at spring training and seeing them going to all the (San Diego) affiliates. But it's part of the game. It's definitely going to get my mental game stronger. That's the best thing. It's God's plan. It's just a bump in the road. I'm looking forward to having a great, great recovery and coming back strong.
Q: Was it the ulnar collateral ligament that was ruptured?
Paddack: Yes, sir. The MRI said it was completely torn. My trainer and San Diego's trainer were looking at it and doing some testing. My strength levels actually were better than normal with a torn UCL, but, like I said, I'm just trying to stay positive. I'm going to see my family for a few days before surgery. That'll be good to clear my mind.
They said I might start playing catch in February, depending on the recovery process.
Q: Do you have a date set for surgery?
Paddack: I do not yet. They're trying to get it as soon as possible. At the same time, they're trying to get the ducks in line. They're trying to line everything up so we can have a plan rather than just have surgery and go through it. They're trying to have a plan all the way through.
Q: Do you think this is an injury that occurred that day in Beloit? Is that what they tell you?
Paddack: You know, it's a good question. The doctor looked at the MRI. The radiologist kept looking at it. My ligament was actually really above-average, the size you could say. But there was fluid in there, and they couldn't tell me an exact answer if it happened there. But I believe it did happen at Beloit. I've never had arm problems. It was really hard going to get an MRI for the first time and you get that news. It's disappointing. It's a little frustrating. But the biggest thing is to take it a day at a time and not look at the long result, because that's when things start getting in your head like negative thoughts. God has a plan for everything, and I'm just going to live by it.
Q: Will you be allowed to come back to Fort Wayne later this month and watch games and be around the team?
Paddack: They gave me some more time with the guys (Saturday and Sunday). I probably won't get to see the guys (again) until spring training next year. We were all looking forward to the offseason, because it's been a long season. When you get that news, it's just kind of shocking, you know. But it's definitely going to increase my mental side.
I'm not worried about anything. The guys that do surgery these days are really good at what they do. The recovery rate for the guy that is going to be my rehabber is 100 percent. That's a blessing, especially considering that 15 years ago, the guys who got Tommy John, you'd need to wear it. The recovery rate was rare. Nowadays they've got the science behind it. I'm not worried.