“Doolittle, Doolittle is going to go see the doctor again,” Davey Martinez told reporters in his pregame press conference before Thursday’s series opener with Atlanta in Washington, D.C.
Doolittle, of course, is Sean Doolittle, the 35-year-old left-hander, Star Wars nerd, World Series champ, and one-time closer in the nation’s capital, who landed on the IL with a left elbow sprain back in April, and went on the 60-Day after receiving a PRP injection in May.
Before the issues, he’d thrown 5 1⁄3 scoreless in his second stint with the Nationals, striking out six without walking any batters, and he was starting to throw and build up again when things went awry recently.
“He had a little bit of soreness in his elbow again, so he’s going to go see the doctor, and we’ll see where he’s at from there,” Martinez explained, noting that whenever there is an issue with the elbow for a pitcher it’s concerning, but holding out hope as they waited for the report from the doctor.
When they got it, the news wasn’t good.
“We talked to Doolittle after his meeting with the doctors, and he’s going to have — it’s called an internal brace procedure, which is repairing the ligament, the UCL ligament, so he’s going to be out 5-6 months,” Martinez told reporters yesterday.
“And he’s hoping to be back for Spring Training. He opted to do that because it’s a shorter time. It stinks. But I wish him a quick recovery, but he’s got a long road ahead of him right now.”
Sean Doolittle shares his reaction to opting for surgery and finding a solution to alleviate his elbow injury. #Nationals pic.twitter.com/TYUxi1wOds— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) July 15, 2022
Sean Doolittle via MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato: “I feel really good about it. I don’t feel good about getting surgery. I feel really good about this is the right course of action for me right now at this point in my career, at this point in this process with my elbow, so as far as I’m looking at it, 2023 starts right now. I’m viewing this as like a long-extended ramp-up into the season next year, and you know, like I said, we knew this was a possibility. I had really put it out of my head, because rehab was going so well, I was just really focused on getting back and competing again this year, so now there’s some uncertainty with like the direction of things in the future, like where am I going to be, what team am I going to be with, like what direction is my career going to go after this, but this gives me the best chance to continue my career on my own terms, not having it lingering in the back of my mind as I continue. So, I’m ready to get to work.”
So, “internal brace procedure”? Is that an alternative to Tommy John?
“Honestly, I don’t really know much about it neither,” Martinez said when a reporter asked.
“It’s the first time I’ve heard that they can do that, but like I said, it’s a shorter procedure, they just go in and repair it instead of doing the whole reconstruction.
“So like I said, hopefully he can come back in that 5-6 months and be ready to go.”
Considering how good Doolittle was early in his return to the organization, it’s even more frustrating.
“He was unbelievable, he really was,” Martinez said. “And I talked to him, and he reiterated that I treated him well, that there’s nothing we could have done different, it just happened, but he’s hoping that — like I said, he wants to pitch again, and he’s hoping that this will help him come back sooner.”
If this is the end of his second run in D.C., what did Doolittle mean to Martinez and the Nats as an organization?
“Oh gosh,” Martinez said. “I can’t speak enough about Doolittle and what he does, not just for this organization, but for our city, and for the players, his teammates, he is one special character, he really is.
“I love him to death, and I always reiterate, you know, after baseball, I’m sure he’s going to be successful in many, many other avenues, and we’ll stay friends for a long time.”