Phillies’ Andrew Painter to rest four weeks after MRI reveals UCL sprain

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A March 3 MRI revealed that 19-year-old Phillies pitcher Andrew Painter had a sprained right proximal ulnar collateral ligament, according to the Phillies. Painter sought a second opinion from Dr Neal ElAttrache, who confirmed a sprain at UCL. The pitcher will rest for four weeks and then begin a slight pitching progression, according to the team.

The 19-year-old right-handed pitcher hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, March 1, when he made his first Grapefruit League start against the Twins. He walked into the Phillies’ camp the next day, reporting “tenderness” in his right elbow.

Painter was the leading candidate to win the Phillies’ fifth starter job this spring, a president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, said he would book for a younger pitcher. Painter would have become the first 19-year-old to pitch for the Phillies since Mark Davis in 1980. Painter turns 20 on April 10.

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“I have extensive studies of young pitchers with extreme speed at a young age,” said Scott Boras, Painter’s agent. “Andrew is aware and understands that his development requires a great deal of care and patience, so his rare skill spans across a long MLB career.”

Despite his injury, Painter attended the Phillies’ spring training facility in Clearwater. He’s been in and out of the Phillies’ big league clubhouse every day and often sits in the dugout during games. Last Tuesday morning, he was at Robin Roberts Field watching his former minor league teammates batting practice.

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Andrew Painter allowed an earned run with one strikeout in his spring debut on March 1..Learn moreYong Kim / Staff Photographer

The Phillies are trying to play the long game with their 2021 first-round pick. They don’t see any sense in rushing a pitcher who has a ceiling as high as Painter’s. He’s dominated at every stage of his development, from rookie league to double-A. He’s allowed just 18 earned runs on three levels in 2022, with 155 strikeouts.

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There are cautionary tales to point out — like Rick Porcello, Madison Bumgarner and Félix Hernández — who debuted at 19 or 20, pitched well until their 28 or 29 seasons, and then weren’t the same. The hope is that Painter won’t just pitch beyond his 28 or 29 season, but dominate beyond that.

“We’re still trying to get all the information together,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said of Painter on Tuesday. “He’s such an important guy in our organization. Young, top prospect, we just want to make sure the information is correct. And we’ll give it to you then.

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