Preller: Lamet, Clevinger won't need surgery

October 14th, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres’ 2020 playoff run was derailed by arm injuries to their two best starting pitchers. They don't expect their '21 season to be.

Right-handers and have been evaluated thoroughly by doctors over the past week, general manager A.J. Preller said, with the consensus being that neither will require surgery. Both are expected to be at full capacity by Spring Training.

"Everybody's been in agreement with both players that it's not something in either case that's surgical and needs to go the operation route," Preller said Wednesday during his season wrap-up Zoom call. "It's something that the doctors feel very confident that, a few weeks down, they'll be in a better spot and be able to come to Spring Training full-go. I think we got some really good news on that front with both guys."

Lamet became a certifiable National League Cy Young Award candidate in 2020, posting a 2.09 ERA in 12 starts. He saw elbow specialist Dr. James Andrews last week. That evaluation uncovered no ligament damage, and Lamet was given the go-ahead to begin platelet-rich plasma therapy earlier this week.

Lamet, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018, complained of biceps tightness in his final regular-season start and did not pitch again. The Padres feared an elbow-related injury. But tests uncovered general arm fatigue, Preller said, rather than any specific ligament damage.

"There wasn't one spot where they could localize it," Preller said of Lamet's injury. "He described something that was really more muscular throughout a larger area. When Dr. Andrews examined him the last few days ... he feels like he's a healthy player. He feels like he just needs some downtime."

Clevinger's situation was always a bit more clear cut. He sustained a right-elbow impingement in late September and twice attempted to pitch through it with minimal success. Clevinger exited Game 1 of the NL Division Series against the Dodgers after throwing just 26 pitches.

The prize of the Padres' massive Trade Deadline haul, Clevinger posted a 2.84 ERA in four starts with San Diego. There was discussion of potential arthroscopic surgery, which might have affected the early part of the 2021 season. But that no longer appears to be on the table.

"It doesn't look like either situation is surgical," Preller said. "Basically, it seems like for both players it's more of a rest/recovery situation. Both guys will take some downtime from throwing, then kick off their offseason program."

Clevinger and Lamet are expected to sit at the front of the Padres' 2021 rotation, with and favorites for the two places behind them.

That could leave youngsters MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño, Ryan Weathers and to compete for the final spot. Or the Padres could look to add some extra rotation depth.

"We all know on the pitching front things change pretty quickly," Preller said. "We continue to subscribe to the theory [of having] as many starters as possible. That's a good problem to have."

Pham on the mend
Preller said outfielder is out of the hospital and back at home as he recovers from surgery to address a stab wound to his lower back.

"Expect a full recovery here over the course of the next three weeks, that's kind of the timeframe," Preller said. "It's obviously a very scary situation. ... The good news overall is that he's doing well. He's on his way to recovery."

Worth noting
• "Obviously we'll have conversations with and with ," Preller said, noting that the Padres' two free-agent closers are both options to be brought back next season. Preller indicated that he will be looking to add to his bullpen as well, even beyond just the closer role.

has a $3 million option for next season, and Preller suggested that the team views Moreland as a piece for ‘21. But Preller also noted that the Padres first want clarity regarding whether the designated hitter would be used by NL teams, as was the case in '20.

• Lefty reliever has "checked all the boxes" and "is full-go," Preller said, after missing two seasons with an assortment of injuries -- to his left elbow and hand in 2019 and his left lat in '20. Castillo owns a 3.23 career ERA with 54 strikeouts in 39 innings.