Tweaked elbow shortens Shane Greene's start

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

St. Louis — They are calling the condition "mild" but when it comes to a pitcher's elbow, especially a pitcher who has had Tommy John surgery, it's rarely mild.

Tigers starter Shane Greene struggled through five arduous but shutout innings in the Tigers' 10-4 victory over the Cardinals on Friday night but he was pulled after 74 pitches.

The initial diagnosis was that Greene had mild ulnar neuritis — which is some nerve pinching in the elbow that causes a tingling sensation in the hand.

"The last time I had that feeling was my first couple of bullpens post-surgery," said Greene, who had Tommy John surgery, which is ulnar ligament replacement surgery, in 2008. "There was no pain at all, that's the frustrating part of it. We will get to the bottom of it."

Greene said he felt a tingling in his pinky and ring finger on his right hand. It did not affect his grip on the baseball and he wanted to remain in the game. But he knew that wasn't going to happen.

"I felt it on the second-to-last hitter I faced," he said. "No pain, just tingling in my fingers. I had surgery before so I know it's kind of a red flag. That's why I said something."

When Greene had the Tommy John surgery, the nerve in his elbow was moved. He said it wasn't even in his elbow now, which gives him some hope that this is just a matter of quieting whatever is causing the nerve to be pinched.

"I am a little scared," he said. "But there's no pain, so I just keep telling myself — there's no pain so everything is going to be all right."

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he thinks Greene might have aggravated the nerve during one of his at-bats. He struck out twice, but he swung mightily.

"Swing big, miss big," Greene said. "I am not sure (that's what aggravated it). They think it may have affected it a little bit. I don't know."

The Tigers will re-evaluate him on Sunday.

"There is no indication that it's anything other than a nerve issue," Ausmus said. "So at this point I am not overly concerned. We don't think this will be long term."

Greene is optimistic, too.

"My gut tells me I will be back on the mound in five days," he said.