Diamonbacks Lefty Has Elbow Ligament Tear, Makes Risky Rehab Decision

He transitioned full-time into the bullpen in 2022, and while the results on the mound were there, the left elbow didn't hold up for southpaw Caleb Smith. The Arizona Diamondbacks have revealed that he suffered a tear in his left elbow ligament. 

Usually, that's a sure-fire sign of Tommy John surgery, but according to D-Backs GM Mike Hazen, Smith has elected not to undergo the procedure. 

The 31-year-old six-year major league veteran injured it on the final day of the season, and has since consulted with numerous medical professionals before coming to the conclusion that he will not have the surgery. 

How that decision will impact his future with the Snakes is very much up in the air. According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Hazen says Smith's choice to go rehab over surgery will be a factor in the club’s upcoming decision on whether to tender Smith a contract for next year.

Formerly a starter, Smith made 44 appearances this season, all but one out of the bullpen. He pitched 70 innings and posted a 4.11 ERA along with a 1.37 WHIP. His control—which has always been a problem throughout his career—was shaky, as he surrendered 5.0 walks per nine innings. 

With a best-case scenario of a lengthy rehab, and a worst-case of TJ surgery eventually putting him out for a year, Smith's career is at a crossroads. 

Photo: Antranik Tavitian/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK