BOSTON -- The inside of his right elbow bruised and badly discolored, Boston Red Sox reliever Joel Hanrahan expressed concern Wednesday night that he may have sustained an injury more serious than originally thought.
Hanrahan said he plans to visit noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews on Friday, and that the results of the tests administered to him here after he came out of Monday night's game have already been sent to Andrews and may be sent to orthopedist David Altchek, the Mets' team physician with whom the Sox medical staff already has consulted.
The concern is that the flexor-pronator strain of his forearm could also involve damage to the ulnar collateral ligament, which in a worst-case scenario could mean Tommy John reconstructive surgery.
He said the initial magnetic resonance imaging exam (MRI) appeared to indicate the ligament had not sustained structural damage.
"I think in the long run we dodged a bullet," Hanrahan said at the time.
Now he's concerned that more is involved. When he had a similar injury with the Pittsburgh Pirates in spring training 2010, he did not have the kind of bruising in the elbow that he has now.
"Doesn't look good," he said. "Leave it up to the experts, see what they say, let them put their heads together and go from there.
"If it is bad, I'm still 31, my personal setup will be all right," he said. "On the [bad] side, I've been here and I haven't been able to do anything I want to, to show anybody who I really am. So that part will stink if something bad happens."
Hanrahan first experienced elbow discomfort near the end of the 2009 season, when he was shut down for 10 games by the Pirates with what was described as elbow soreness. During spring training, he was diagnosed with a flexor-pronator strain, and missed the first six games of the season. He appeared in 72 games as a setup man, then was made closer the following year and posted back-to-back All-Star seasons for the Pirates, saving a total of 76 games.
"We knew that Joel was going to require some sort of significant period of rest," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. "As is the case with these things, particularly with a pitcher and an arm issue, our initial work is always focused on trying to see if we can manage a situation conservatively, get a pitcher back going without doing anything invasive. But we're still gathering information, and as you said, he's going to see another doctor -- which he should, we encourage that.
We've got to wait and get that information and then we'll talk again amongst the group and with the docs and figure out the best course.
"He's got a real injury, and we've just got to keep gathering information and ultimately allow him to be comfortable with the decision and do what's right for him."
He was traded to the Red Sox along with minor league infielder Brock Holt on Dec. 26, the Sox sending pitcher Mark Melancon and three other players in the deal. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington declared Hanrahan would be the team's closer, eliminating any competition with Andrew Bailey for the job coming into spring training. The Sox signed Hanrahan to a one-year, $7.04 million contract, avoiding salary arbitration.
But Hanrahan injured his hamstring in his second appearance for the Sox on April 3 in Yankee Stadium. Though he converted his first three save opportunities, he gave up a total of three home runs in back-to-back appearances against the Baltimore Orioles, including an April 10 game when he entered the ninth with a 5-3 lead and gave up five runs.
The Sox ultimately placed him on the DL with a right hamstring strain on April 16, postdated to April 14, and he missed 15 games, returning April 30. He gave up a run on a couple of hits that night in Toronto, then posted his fourth save two nights later with a scoreless inning in a 3-1 win over the Blue Jays.
He did not pitch again until Monday, when he gave up a game-tying home run in the ninth to Brian Dozier of the Twins and came out three batters later, with a 1-and-0 count to Justin Morneau, indicating to team trainers that he felt something near his elbow. He said afterward that he felt the discomfort on the third pitch he made to Dozier; three pitches later, Dozier homered.