As the Cubs head toward another potential summer sell-off, their biggest haul from last year’s trade deadline is struggling to get healthy.
Arodys Vizcaino underwent arthroscopic debridement on his right elbow, the club announced Tuesday, and won’t throw a baseball for at least another six weeks, meaning the 22-year-old top prospect will not make an impact at the major-league level this season.
Dr. James Andrews – who also performed Tommy John surgery on Vizcaino in March 2012 – did the procedure that removed a calcium deposit that caused soreness and forced extra recovery time after throwing bullpen sessions.
The Cubs said the examination showed Vizcaino’s ligament is in good shape after the Tommy John procedure that wiped out his entire 2012 season.
The Cubs weighed the health issues and the high success rate coming off Tommy John surgery when they made Vizcaino the centerpiece of the Paul Maholm/Reed Johnson trade with the Atlanta Braves last July.
Entering the 2012 season, Baseball America ranked Vizcaino as the second-best prospect in Atlanta’s organization, and 40th overall in the game. That kind of ceiling had the Cubs hoping he could join their staff sometime this summer, maybe around the All-Star break and perhaps after another busy trade deadline.
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But that best-case scenario won’t happen. Now the thinking is Vizcaino could potentially play in the Arizona Fall League and gear up for the 2014 season.
Scott Baker – who’s also recovering from Tommy John surgery while on a one-year, $5.5 million deal – is doing long toss in Arizona and not expected back before August.
Kyuji Fujikawa (strained right forearm) got an MRI on Tuesday, but team officials said the results weren’t immediately available. The Cubs viewed the Japanese closer as a long-term piece after giving him a two-year, $9.5 million contract, which contains a vesting/club option for 2015.
Fujikawa – whose right elbow was said to be “barking” late in spring training – went back on the disabled list on Monday with a similar injury that sidelined him in mid-April through mid-May.
There will be more questions as the Cubs try to build out their pitching staff for the future.