Washington Nationals’ top 2012 draft pick Lucas Giolito is heading to see Dr. Lewis Yocum for a second opinion after a recurrence of soreness in his elbow following his only professional appearance. The Nationals are prepared for the possibility that Giolito will need Tommy John surgery.
“If he needs surgery, we’re going to give him the surgery,” said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo who has seen two of his star pitchers, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, undergo the procedure, as well as several others. Top left-handed prospect Sammy Solis also underwent the surgery in March.
“There’s no sense in delaying it. We’re in the process of getting a second opinion on ‘Does he need surgery?’”
Giolito, who threw two innings in a Gulf Coast League game on Aug. 14, complained of soreness in his right elbow after his outing. Giolito had been working in Viera, Fla., with the Nationals’ staff as he continued his rehab program. He got through that fine but once he got on a mound the same issues that cost him most of senior high school season with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament returned.
The Nationals were aware that Tommy John might be a route they’d have to take when they drafted Giolito No. 16 overall this past June. In reality, the only reason the once potential No. 1 overall pick fell to them was because of concerns over his elbow. The Nationals signed Giolito for $2.925 million just before the July 13 deadline.
After his start, the Nationals brought Giolito to see team medical director Wiemi Douoguih, who found the same injury that Giolito had dealt with before the draft, and the team is in the process of scheduling an appointment with Yocum for a second opinion.
“Once we get a diagnosis from him then we’ll proceed with whatever we have to do,” Rizzo said. “We knew when we drafted him this was an issue and, you know, we were comfortable with the fact that, worst case scenario was Tommy John surgery.
“We’ll see where that’s headed. Going into this with our eyes wide open, we felt this was a scenario and a possibility.”
Asked what the mindset of the 18-year-old was at this point, Rizzo said he too was prepared for the possibility.
“His mindset is that he wants to be healthy and get back on the mound pitching,” Rizzo said. “So whichever road gets him back on the mound sooner, that’s the one he’s going to take.”