Putnam plays catch, hopes to avoid surgery

Reliever placed on DL on June 21 with right elbow injury

Putnam plays catch, hopes to avoid surgery

HOUSTON -- The specter of surgery continues to hang over White Sox reliever Zach Putnam, who was placed on the disabled list on June 21 with ulnar neuritis in his right elbow. But he continues to work hard to avoid that outcome and get back to the mound this season.

"I'm just hoping for the best, honestly," Putnam said. "We are doing everything that we can, and I know I'm doing everything I can away from the field as far as the things that I need to do to increase the possibility of this thing recovering on its own and allowing me to pitch the rest of the season."

Putnam joined the team in Houston and played catch from 60 feet on Friday and Saturday. He plans to do the same Monday, when the White Sox return to U.S. Cellular Field.

"I just played a little bit of catch and nothing really too indicative of anything," Putnam said. "I didn't put a lot of tax on it or anything. But it's fine. We are going to continue to kind of stay the course, throw again Monday and each time increase the workload a little bit and just re-evaluate after each session."

Once Putnam began to throw, he figured he'd get a little better idea of how the elbow had improved or changed painwise. But he certainly wasn't expecting it to be 100 percent, knowing "there's some stuff in there."

If Putnam eventually opts for surgery, it potentially could be of the arthroscopic variety to remove bone chips in the elbow. But there's no final date set in terms of making a decision on how to move forward.

"We haven't talked about anything like that," Putnam said. "I'm sure there will be a point like that. If we get to a point where we are still kind of wondering how it's going to respond, I think the goal is to try, in a reasonably timely manner, to figure out what way we are going to go with it.

"Obviously, I can't just continue to play catch at 60 feet for the next however long. But there hasn't been a specific date talked about."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura understands that much of the decision will be based on how Putnam responds to continued treatment.

"He's continuing to treat it, and [White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider] is working with him," Ventura said. "This is something that I don't really know if there's a timetable to it, because he's going to continue to treat it and see if we can get it back to where he starts pitching again."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.