TORONTO - Kyle Drabek is cautiously optimistic that another Tommy John surgery isn't in his near future.
The Blue Jays starting pitcher was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with a UCL sprain to his right elbow -- an injury that is all too familiar to the 24-year-old. But this time the symptoms are different and Drabek is hopeful that means a much shorter rehab.
"They said they saw a little tear and right when they said that, I flashed back to when I had it previously and hated going through it," he said before Friday's game. "You miss a year of baseball, you miss a year of hanging out with the guys. Today it's a little different because it doesn't feel the same way as it did the first time I had it. I still have mobility in my arm and when I had it before, everything was pain."
Drabek's previous Tommy John surgery was in 2007 while with the Philadelphia Phillies' class-A Lakewood BlueClaws. On Friday, an MRI revealed that he had a torn ligament that could require surgery. He'll visit Dr. James Andrews in Alabama on Monday to confirm the diagnosis.
Manager John Farrell described Drabek as being "down" on Thursday at the possibility of being out for at least 12 months.
"This is someone that's already experienced a Tommy John surgery previous and the rehab that follows that. What's unique about this one is that even when he felt the sensation on the mound, afterwards he had good strength and he has good range of motion in here today with little discomfort at all. So the need for a second opinion is there. But as a pitcher and what he went through, it's natural to assume the worst and that had him dejected," Farrell said.
Despite initially assuming the worst, Drabek said that because he hasn't undergone an MRI test since he was traded in 2009, it's possible he's been playing with the tear for some time.
"(The doctor) was wondering the same thing so I really don't know. But up until the last week, it's felt great so I'm hoping that what they saw might have been there and it's just a little rehab," he said. "Best case for me is that it is a month, two months, a little rehab. Worst case is that it's completely torn and I'm going to have to miss a full year."
Naturally, he's hoping for best case. But teammate Jason Frasor -- who underwent his second Tommy John surgery in 2002 -- had some optimistic words for Drabek should it be the worst.
"He was pretty much saying you've got to grind through it again if I happen to have it. He says he feels great, he hasn't had a problem with it. 10 years and he's still feeling really great," Drabek said of their conversation.
"If I have to have it again, (I'll) take my year of rehab real hard and try and get back here as soon as possible healthy."