For Philadelphia Phillies fans hoping to see top pitching prospect Andrew Painter on the mound this season, a discouraging update on his health status for 2024 has seemingly put those hopes to rest.
Appearing on Philadelphia SportsRadio 94WIP recently, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski spoke with hosts Jon Richie and Joe DeCamara on a variety of pressing Phillies-related questions. When the topic shifted to a status update on Painter's recovery from Tommy John reconstructive surgery, Dombrowski all but ruled out Painter for the majority of 2024.
"He right now, he's where he needs to be, but he's just tossing at this point," answered Dombrowski. "Which is where he should be. I don't really look for Andrew to pitch this year. I'm looking towards 2025. I guess you can always be surprised, but I don't want to put that pressure on him."
While Dombrowski didn't exactly close the door entirely on Painter pitching at some level this season, its abundantly clear the organization is going to be very careful in its approach to his recovery and rehab.
Painter is roughly seven months removed from Tommy John surgery
Painter's elbow issues date back to last spring training when he started to experience discomfort following a two-inning appearance against the Minnesota Twins. Diagnosed with a partial tear of his UCL in his right-throwing elbow, the Phillies opted against Tommy John surgery with the idea that rest and rehabilitation would allow the injury to heal naturally.
That plan backfired, and Painter underwent Tommy John surgery on July 25.
With the right-hander nearly at the seven-month mark of his rehab from the procedure, it's telling that Dombrowski has essentially ruled Painter out for this season. While Tommy John surgery for position players is a quicker rehab process — Bryce Harper is a good example, returning five months later —12 to 18 months is considered average for pitchers.
With Painter set to hit the one-year mark in July, the Phillies obviously feel he isn't on an accelerated schedule and won't risk further damage to his promising arm. The Phillies No. 1 prospect's continued rehab will be something to follow this season, as the Phillies hope to have the 20-year-old back on the mound in some capacity soon.