The Philadelphia Phillies announced on Wednesday that their medical staff has recommended that top prospect Andrew Painter undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a partial tear in his right UCL.
This is considerably different news than the club has been providing on Painter since he incurred the injury in early March after just one spring training outing. The original prognosis took some time to be made public. The club officially stated that the right-hander had a sprained UCL and would take at least a month off from throwing in any capacity.
He returned to throwing bullpen sessions a few times a week— first from shorter distances and increased to longer throws as his rehab progressed. However, last week it was reported that Painter had revealed to the team that he experienced elbow discomfort after a recent bullpen session. After being examined by the medical staff the Phillies stated that an MRI on Painter's elbow actually revealed healing. Rob Thomson went on to say just before the All-Star break:
"The testing showed there is healing in there. So all we're going to do is just back him off for a few days, let that discomfort get out of the way and then we'll start going again."- Todd Zolecki, MLB.com
The fact that the Phillies' medical staff is now recommending elbow reconstruction surgery means that there must be more that was found. The Phillies obviously want to take it slow and be sure that Painter is 100% as he is their top-rated prospect in the system. It appears that Painter will see the same surgeon who performed Bryce Harper's Tommy John surgery— Dr. Neal ElAttrache— early next week for a consultation.
If Painter does end up undergoing Tommy John surgery it will almost certainly cause him to miss all of the 2024 season, making 2025 the earliest that he may see a Major League mound. Even if that were the case, Painter would still be just 22 years old and while he would require an extensive rehab, the Phillies could still see Painter in his prime.