MRI reveals elbow strain for Knapp

Andrew Knapp was feeling great during the first few days of the New York-Penn League season. The lingering effects of a tired arm at the end of a long college season were gone with a couple weeks of rest.

That changed quickly for the 2013 second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies. The grind of the constant throwing, which comes with a catcher playing professional baseball, brought back the pain in his right elbow.

After not catching for more than a week, he went to Philadelphia on Tuesday for an MRI where it was determined he had a strained ligament in his right elbow, but there was no structural damage. Knapp, one of three catchers on the Williamsport Crosscutters’ roster, won’t throw for the next week or two.

He will continue to hit as the team’s designated hitter.

“It’s actually good news,” Knapp said. “No surgery or anything. We’ll just play it by ear and see how it feels every day.”

He had an idea even before he went for the the MRI the injury was nothing serious. He and Cutters trainer Taka Sakurai had figured it was likely just a strain or tendonitis.

Knapp hasn’t caught since the Cutters played at Jamestown on June 20. He’s been Williamsport’s designated hitter eight times since he quit throwing to rest his arm. Initially, manager Nelson Prada said he would be shut down from throwing just three to four days. But after more than a week of pain and a bit of a dead arm when throwing, Knapp was sent for the MRI.

“It’s good to make sure and get that peace of mind and medical proof that’s what (the injury) actually is,” Knapp said. “It’s kind of good for me to have it in the back of my mind that I’ll be OK.”

Knapp said he could actually deal with the pain during the game because he could make a throw if he had to make a throw. But if he did that, there would be a lingering soreness after the game.

It’s a frustrating injury because the defense was the biggest question mark on Knapp coming out of California. He hit .350 for the Golden Bears this year, raising his stock to the level of being a second-round draft pick who signed for a slot bonus of over $1 million.

He’ll be going two or three weeks without catching if he waits the full two weeks before he’s able to throw again.

“It’s frustrating because you want to be on the field as much as you can,” Knapp said. “I came out here and was ready to play 70 games. You never want to be on the bench. But it’s good that it’s nothing more than just a strain. I’m thanking God for that one.”

Knapp has been productive at the plate after a slow start as he got used to swinging wooden bats once again. In his last four games, he’s 6 for 14 (.429 average) and he’s struck out just once.

The switch-hitter is beginning to feel more comfortable from both sides of the plate, even though he’s had just 12 of his 43 plate appearances from the right side.

“I think when you play 54 games with metal, it takes a little bit to get used to the wood,” Knapp said. “I’ve hit with wood in the past, so it’s not really that big of an issue. It’s more the flow of the game and the timing. I took a couple weeks off from live pitching, too, so that was a bit of an issue. The more you hit, the better you feel.”

MARTINEZ OUT: Gustavo Martinez sat out his second consecutive game Wednesday night after injuring his foot Monday night against State College. Martinez injured his foot when he stole third base in the fourth inning Monday night, but finished the game. He struck out in his final two at-bats.

Martinez, the Crosscutters’ center fielder, was initially in Tuesday’s lineup, but he left the field during batting practice with trainer Taka Sakurai after taking just a couple swings and was replaced in the lineup with Justin Parr.

“He tried to go, but it didn’t feel right,” Cutters manager Nelson Prada said. “He’s day-to-day.”

Jiandido Tromp started in center field Wednesday night.

ROSTER MOVES: Cutters reliever Chris Burgess was called up to low Class A Lakewood on Wednesday after making four appearance as a reliever for Williamsport. He was 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in five innings pitched for the Cutters before his promotion.

Added to the Williamsport roster was Chris Nichols, a right-handed reliever who was demoted from Lakewood. Nichols was 0-2 with a combined 8.50 ERA between nine appearances between high Class A Clearwater and Lakewood this year.

Right-handed pitcher Mark Meadors was also added to the roster. He was a 21st-round draft pick in last month’s draft out of Cowley County Community College. He was 8-2 this spring with a 2.68 ERA for Cowley County.

Nichols and Meadors will available today.