Manny Machado the baseball player has “tennis elbow.” That is both good and bad news for the San Diego Padres.
The formal name for the Machado injury is lateral epicondylitis and it does not always involve playing tennis. This is an overuse injury to the extensor tendons of the wrist/hand at their origin on the outside (lateral or radial side) of the elbow. The name “tennis elbow” comes from a repetitively “wristy” backhand with forces accentuated by the long lever arm of the racket.
The good news is this Machado injury is not at all related to the ulnar collateral ligament or “Tommy John” injury, which occurs on the inside (medial) of the elbow. Bryce Harper has a partial tear of his UCL and this is why he cannot play in the field but continues to DH. Machado who missed Saturday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, has already played through for a few days and should avoid IL and return quickly.
The additional good news is the right elbow is the one that is affected. Because it is not related to the “Tommy John” ligament, it only has a small impact on throws. It likely bothers Machado with grip of the baseball and the bat. If it were on the left or power side for a right-handed batter, it would affect his hitting much more.
The bad news is this is an overuse injury that can linger for weeks. Rest, ice, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and modalities are the first line of care. Machado will likely wear an elbow strap high on the right forearm to reduce stress. Injections (cortisone or PRP) are possible but that would involve more days off. Surgery is very rarely needed and is a last resort.
No baseball player ever wants an elbow injury but this is the “better” one to have. Machado has and will continue to play through. This injury is a management issue but should not derail the Padres hot start to the season as they continue to wait for the return of Fernando Tatis Jr., which is still at least a month away.