Catching prospect Diaz not expecting surgery

Says rest, treatment should remedy sore right elbow

Catching prospect Diaz not expecting surgery

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates catching prospect Elias Diaz remains sidelined with a sore right elbow, but he's confident he'll be able to avoid surgery.

Diaz hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game since March 16. On Monday, the Pirates announced that Diaz was "experiencing lateral right elbow discomfort." Diaz has been limited to catching bullpen sessions and doing lower-body workouts, along with rest and treatment.

Pirates Spring Training info

"But with my arm, I can't do anything," he said Saturday.

The clear No. 3 catcher on the Pirates' depth chart, Diaz doesn't know how long he will have to sit out. Head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said earlier this week that Diaz's pain was "more of a chronic thing," but that Diaz said he had never experienced this level of soreness. Diaz believes the pain came about from overthrowing, not from any specific throw from behind the plate.

Diaz's two-run homer

"I've been feeling it before, but not like it feels right now," Diaz said. "That's why I went to the trainer and told him I don't feel good, I need to look at what I have in my elbow."

Tomczyk said the Pirates are "not overly concerned" about the possibility of a damaged ulnar collateral ligament that would require surgery, and Diaz firmly echoed that opinion.

"No, I don't need surgery or anything," he said. "Just rest and treatment, that's it."

Diaz, the Bucs' No. 8 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, hit .271/.330/.382 with four home runs and 47 RBIs for Triple-A Indianapolis last season, and he received the 2015 Captain's Award from Baseball America as Minor League Baseball's top defensive catcher.

He finished last season in Pittsburgh, working with the Pirates' pitchers and coaches while learning from Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. When healthy, he is expected to be the everyday catcher in Triple-A and serve as Major League-ready depth in case of an injury.

If Diaz begins the season on the disabled list, the Pirates' may open the season with a Triple-A catching tandem of Ed Easley, who has four years of Triple-A experience with the D-backs and Cardinals, and Jacob Stallings, who finished last season with Double-A Altoona.

But Diaz is confident he'll eventually be back to full health.

"I was worried. Right now, I don't worry. I know that I'm going to be good," he said. "I'm just going to have to take the time that I have to take for it to be healthy and 100 percent and get back to playing."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.