Proctor Takes Big Step Tomorrow

RHP Scott Proctor is scheduled to make his spring debut tomorrow against the Tigers in what would be his first game action in 16 months.

Proctor had right elbow inflammation during spring training last year, and underwent Tommy John surgery in May, causing him to miss the entire season. In 2008, he spent more than two months on the disabled list due to right elbow tendonitis. Proctor ranked first in the majors in 2006 with 83 appearances (102.1 innings pitched), and followed that with 83 more appearances in 2007.

On November 6, Atlanta signed Proctor to a one-year  deal, worth $750,000. At the time, a May return was considered the best-case scenario for the 33-year old. Typical recovery time for pitchers who undergo Tommy John surgery is around twelve months. When Proctor arrived at camp, we learned it was possible that the right-hander would prove healthy enough to exit camp on the 25-man roster. On March 16, Bobby Cox said he still thought Proctor could break camp with the team.  Here we are in mid-march and he’s returning to the mound.

Atlanta has a couple spots in the bullpen up for grabs at the moment, and a handful of guys competing. The pitchers that were expected to snatch the open spots haven’t pitched as well as the ones who weren’t expected to make it, and now it’s a pretty tight race. Could Proctor really travel north with the team in April?

He’s had pretty good success in the past, but when you’ve been away from the game for so long, somewhere along the line you should expect a setback. So far everything has gone great for him and he’s ahead of schedule, but health is not his only concern. Proctor also has to be able to get major league hitters out, which is hard for most anybody, but especially hard on a guy who’s been out for almost a year and a half. Cox seems to be pretty excited about the idea of having Scotty in the ‘pen, but wouldn’t it be worth it to let him go down and face some triple-A hitters first and shake off some of that rust instead of sending him straight to battle?

I still don’t expect him to make the 25-man roster, but it is certainly possible if he’s healthy. I’d be perfectly happy with seeing Mike Dunn or Manny Acosta in there for a 2-3 weeks, pitching in a few games in mop-up duty instead of rushing Proctor. Still, there are a few more hurdles for him to jump, and tomorrow is a big one.

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