DALLAS — Washington Nationals pitching prospect Sammy Solis has visited with renowned orthopedic surgeon Lewis Yocum and team doctor Wiemi Douoguih in recent weeks after experiencing elbow discomfort in the Arizona Fall League.
The extent of the left-hander’s injury is unclear at this point but the Nationals expect to have a resolution as to how they will proceed with Solis within a matter of days.
“We don’t have a final diagnosis for him but we’re concerned enough to send him to two doctors,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told The Washington Times.
The Nationals are extremely familiar with watching their young, promising pitchers deal with elbow injuries. While the Nationals are unsure of the severity of Solis’ discomfort and whether a surgical option will have to be considered, they have seen two of their best young pitchers — Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann — need Tommy John surgery in two of the past three years. Yocum performed the surgery on both pitchers.
The team isn’t rushing to that diagnosis this time, though.
“We’re not going to Tommy John yet,” Rizzo said of Solis. “That’s way down the road — but there is concern, yes. Whenever you have elbow soreness, it’s concerning.”
Zimmermann returned for his first full season in 2011 and was superb for much of it but was held to a 161⅓ innings limit. He will be free of an innings limit in 2012 but Strasburg, who pitched in the major leagues in September for the first time since his own surgery in 2010, will be held to a limit.
Solis was 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA this season in the AFL, struggling at the start as he worked to install a new curveball, but put things together toward the end — including a dazzling four-inning, nine strikeout performance on Nov. 4. However, in his next start, on Nov. 9, Solis pitched just three innings and allowed three runs off four hits with two walks. His doctors visits followed.
The left-hander out of the University of San Diego was a second-round pick in 2010 and signed with the Nationals for a well-over-slot bonus of $1 million that August. He pitched well this season with Single-A Hagerstown and then Potomac after overcoming a groin injury in spring training that set him back a bit.
Solis finished the year with an 8-3 record and an impressive 3.26 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings. He went to the Arizona Fall League to continue building up his innings count after the late start this season due to the nagging injuries during the spring.
He was recently ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the Nationals system by Baseball America.