Padres Pitchers Back On Track After Elbow Injuries





SAN DIEGO The Year of the Elbow doesn't look so traumatic anymore for the Padres farm system, which saw four of its pitching prospects shut down with elbow injuries in the season's first half.

Lefthander Robbie Erlin and righthander Casey Kelly have come back to pitch well. Lefthander Juan Oramas and righty Joe Wieland, both recovering from Tommy John surgery, are expected to pitch next year.

Erlin, 21, strained an elbow ligament while pitching for Double-A San Antonio on May 12. Three months later, following a few tuneups in the Rookie-level Arizona League, the lefthander returned to the Missions and compiled a 3.38 ERA with 27 strikeouts and four walks in 19 innings.

"His rehab really went very well from day one," farm director Randy Smith said. "He's picked up pretty much where he left off. He's been up to 92 (mph) every time out . . . and his stuff's been good."

The Padres traded for Erlin and Wieland last summer in the deal that sent reliever Mike Adams to the Rangers. Concerned about each prospect's workload, the Padres immediately put Erlin and Wieland in six-man rotations.

Wieland was pitching with the Padres this year when a torn elbow ligament ended his season. Had Erlin stayed healthy, there's a "pretty good chance" he'd have reached the major leagues by now, Smith said.

The Padres are excited to think what Erlin, 21, would do for them at Petco Park. He may get his chance at some point next year. First, he's ticketed for the Arizona Fall League.

For inspiration, Erlin can look to Kelly's comeback after three months on the disabled list for an elbow strain. Kelly threw six scoreless innings and got the victory in his major league debut on Aug. 27 against the Braves at Petco Park. He was 2-3, 6.21 in 29 innings with the Padres.

FATHER FIGURES

• Low Class A Fort Wayne outfielder Travis Jankowski, the 44th overall pick in June out of Stony Brook, sustained a broken rib when he was hit by a pitch in the Midwest League title game. He had a 24-game hitting streak at the time and was hitting .282/.318./.370 with 17 steals in 24 attempts.

• The Padres instructional league was set to run for 25 days through Oct. 7. Farm director Randy Smith said the schedule calls for three games a week and fine-tuning of skills on other days.