DETROIT — Ricky Nolasco reported feeling a “spike” in his pitching elbow during his start on Wednesday, and the Twins sent the righthander back to Minneapolis on Thursday to be examined by team doctors.
Nolasco, hammered by the Tigers for six runs on six hits in his 2015 debut, said he felt some pain while pitching to Alex Avila in the fourth inning, but said nothing at the time. “He pitched to a couple more hitters, and when he came in, he said he felt a little soreness in his elbow,” manager Paul Molitor said. “He felt it on one pitch in particular. So we felt the prudent thing was to get him back to Minneapolis to see our doctors.”
Nolasco left Detroit on a morning flight Thursday, so the Twins don’t expect to know anything until late in the day or perhaps on Friday. “We don’t know what the diagnosis is,” Molitor said, but Nolasco is expected to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam. “We’re hoping for a clean slate.”
It’s “way too early,” Molitor said, to know whether Nolasco will make his next start, scheduled for the Twins’ home opener on Monday against Kansas City.
Nolasco was sidelined for five weeks last season by a flexor strain in his forearm, but Molitor said this soreness appears unrelated to that condition.
Nolasco, 32, was hoping to resurrect his career this season following a disappointing 6-12, 5.38 ERA debut season after signing a four-year, $49 million contract with the Twins. But his first start in 2015 was not much better; he retired only nine Tigers while allowing six runs. His velocity mostly registered 89-90 mph on his fastball, down slightly from last season’s level, but that may be attributable to the cold weather.
Avila walked on five pitches during the at-bat that Nolasco said he felt “a spike,” then gave up an infield single to Jose Iglesias and a triple to Anthony Gose before being removed. Nolasco’s velocity did not appreciably drop after he experienced pain, which would be an indicator that something catastrophic had happened.