Tazawa might need elbow surgery

Tazawa might need elbow surgery

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Red Sox pitching prospect Junichi Tazawa may need surgery, he learned during a visit with renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Alabama on Monday.

"I'm not sure," Tazawa said Tuesday when asked about the prospect of surgery on his right elbow. "That's all going to be part of the discussion."

Andrews saw Tazawa on Monday and diagnosed him with a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow -- the same ligament that, when torn, requires Tommy John surgery to replace. Tazawa has a sprain and not a tear, so such a procedure shouldn't be necessary. But Tazawa plans on discussing his situation with the Red Sox's medical staff this week to determine the next step.

"They've got to figure out what's the best course of action -- whether it's surgery, whether it's rehab," manager Terry Francona said. "That's kind of where we're at right now."

Tazawa, an international free agent who signed with Boston in 2008 and immediately became one of the team's top pitching prospects, first began feeling "tightness" in his elbow at the end of last season. He said that he often felt similar sensations during his professional career in Japan.

"The tightness that I was experiencing was fairly normal and what I'm used to," Tazawa said. "So if it was completely up to me, I probably wouldn't have gone ahead and gotten it examined. But at the same time, it's an opportunity for me to find out exactly what's going on, exactly what the reasons are, so I think it's a good thing to have that chance right now."

Still, the tightness caused enough of a stir for the Red Sox to send Tazawa to Alabama.

"Dr. Andrews kind of laid everything out for him," Francona said. "Soon, we'll figure out what's going to happen. I think a lot's getting thrown at him in a hurry."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.