Remember Joe Wieland? He’s one of the four major-league caliber Padres pitchers currently in recovery from Tommy John surgery. We’re all aware that Josh Johnson had the surgery just prior to the start of the year, and Cory Luebke had the surgery for the second time this Spring. Earlier this month, we had good news about Casey Kelly, who went under the knife last year. Well this week, Wieland, perhaps the least well-known of the four, had good news in his recovery as well.
Wieland, who had the surgery in July 2012, had a throwing session to test his elbow on Wednesday, playing catch from a distance of 105 feet. The session went well. Wieland will continue to throw each week, from increasingly longer distances. Wieland reported feeling great about the session, and is on track to begin pitching again soon, likely with some minor league starts.
“One-hundred percent … it feels like my old, TJ-free elbow,” Wieland said. “Hopefully the middle of next month, I’ll be able to start my rehab assignment,”
Wieland was ranked as the number 8 prospect for the Padres by Baseball America prior to the surgery. After compiling an ERA of 1.97 in 2011 while climbing the minor league ladder, he started 2012 in the Padres starting rotation, filling in for an injured Tim Stauffer. Wieland started five games, posting a 4.55 ERA and striking out 24 in 27.2 innings before going on the DL. The surgery came two months later.
The Padres pitching has been their primary strength this season, with the fifth best ERA in the majors. Having pitchers like Kelly and Wieland returning will only add to the organization’s pitching strength.