The White Sox have an update on injured pitching prospect Dane Dunning, and it's not positive.
Dunning, whose 2018 season ended in June because of a forearm injury, has been shut down after being put on a recent throwing program, with general manager Rick Hahn telling reporters Wednesday in Arizona that Tommy John surgery is a possibility.
Rick Hahn says that Dane Dunning will see Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Hahn: “all options including surgery are on the table.”— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) March 13, 2019
Dunning went through his throwing program, felt some discomfort so the White Sox immediately shut him down.— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) March 13, 2019
Hahn on Dane Dunning: “Everything’s on the table including a potential Tommy John surgery.”— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) March 13, 2019
Dunning was shut down last summer with the hope of avoiding Tommy John surgery. When he wasn't invited to major league camp this spring, Hahn explained it away as wanting to ease Dunning into 2019.
"The reason for that is we know he’s starting the season at Double-A Birmingham. He’s not making the big league club right now," Hahn said at SoxFest in January. "And in a season coming off of injury where he needs to be ready for that Birmingham schedule on April 6 or whenever his spot comes up, we don’t want him throwing pitches in anger on Feb. 25 when our Cactus League schedule starts. So he’s fine, we’re easing him back in, we expect him to be part of that Birmingham rotation."
But the team announced roughly a month later during spring training that Dunning was dealing with forearm discomfort. It was at that point he was placed on the throwing program, which has now resulted in a new shutdown and increased concerns about Dunning's immediate future.
It's a tough blow for Dunning and the White Sox after the 24-year-old right-hander had such a terrific 2018 campaign in the minor leagues. He posted a 2.59 ERA in four starts at Class A Winston-Salem, earned a promotion to Double-A Birmingham and turned in a 2.76 ERA in 11 starts there prior to the injury.
Hahn went as far to say that Dunning would have been in the mix for a spot in the major league rotation if not for that forearm injury.
"Quite frankly, had he not had the forearm setback last year, he probably would’ve been part of this conversation for the fifth spot coming into this season," he said in January. "He’s extremely polished, great pitch ability, great makeup. And the only thing that derailed his rapid ascent was the forearm issue."
But the news on this injury throws into question when Dunning will eventually make an impact at the major league level. If Tommy John surgery is the end result of this process, it could knock him out of action for more than a year. Coupled with Michael Kopech's Tommy John surgery, waiting on two of the organization's highest-rated pitching prospects to recover would be a bummer for White Sox fans.
The determination on Dunning has not been made yet, but this is currently not good news for the No. 80 prospect in baseball.