Amaro on pitching injuries: 'Anatomy is just anatomy'

Amaro on pitching injuries: 'Anatomy is just anatomy'

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February 28, 2014, 1:30 pm
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Ethan Martin (right), who typically throws in the mid-90s, sat at 85 mph in Thursday's game before leaving with shoulder discomfort. (AP)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has a simple explanation for the rash of shoulder injuries that has beset his organization.

“It’s anatomy,” he said at Bright House Field on Friday, shortly after pitcher Ethan Martin headed out the door to have an MRI on his ailing right shoulder.

Martin became the Phillies’ latest shoulder casualty Thursday when he failed to get his fastball above 85 mph in an outing at Dunedin. Martin, who usually revs it up in the mid-90s, later complained of soreness in the back of his shoulder.

Early in camp, Jonathan Pettibone had to back off his throwing program because of a recurrence of the shoulder pain that caused him to miss the final two months of last season. Pettibone had a cortisone injection and resumed throwing bullpen sessions on Friday.

“Game on,” said Pettibone, who believes he’s on the road to full health.

Two other strong pitching prospects, lefty Adam Morgan and right-hander Shane Watson, both had shoulder surgery last month and won’t pitch until later this season. Morgan is a significant loss because he was considered the team’s most advanced starting pitching prospect and nearly major league-ready a year ago. He initially injured his shoulder in May of 2013.

Morgan’s injury and the setbacks sustained by Pettibone and Martin have left the Phillies extremely thin in pitching depth. The club was so concerned about depth that it extended a spring-training invite to right-hander David Buchanan six weeks after he went unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft in December. Buchanan will start Saturday’s game against the Yankees in Tampa.

The pitching arm is one of the most fragile tools in sports. Always has been. Teams spend money and invest time trying to prevent injuries, but they still happen.

Amaro defended his team’s handling of pitchers and their arms.

“I love what our guys do medically and what we do to prevent injuries -- our stretching program, our routine,” he said. “It’s anatomy. You can’t do much about it.

“We do as good a preventive job as anybody. We’re probably one of the most state-of-the-art, medically sound organizations in baseball. Our doctor (Michael Ciccotti) is the president of the doctors' association of Major League Baseball.

“It started way back with [former athletic trainer] Jeff Cooper, as far as us being as up to speed and advanced as we possibly can. Our stretching program, our strengthening program, the things that we do for the shoulder, the studies we’ve done on elbows and stuff -- our guys are on top of it.

“Sometimes anatomy is just anatomy. What are you going to do? You can’t do anything about it, other than try to prevent it. If the guy breaks, he breaks.”

Results of Martin’s MRI were not immediately available.