WASHINGTON -- The Rockies and pitcher Jhoulys Chacin will decide early next week if he will go on another rehab program for his troublesome right shoulder or undergo surgery.
The club announced Wednesday that an MRI conducted Monday, the day the club placed Chacin on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season, revealed a right rotator cuff strain and labral pathology in the form of fraying. The muscle strain is similar to what the team found in February, when it shut Chacin down in early Spring Training and delayed the start of his season a month. The issue in the labrum is more pronounced now than then.
"He's beat up," Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said.
The results have been sent to noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews for consultation. Chacin will meet with the Rockies' training staff and the team's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Thomas J. Noonan, to determine the next step, with the decision expected by early next week.
Even then, final answers could be down the road.
One option is to give it weeks to calm down, then go back to strengthening -- the same pattern he took when the injury happened at the start of Spring Training.
If surgery is the best option, doctors won't know until the operation whether the labrum needs a cleanup of loose bodies or if the tear is significant enough to be stitched. If stitched, the operation could be similar to what former Rockies lefty Jeff Francis underwent in February 2009. Rehab times vary, but Francis missed that entire season and made 23 appearances in 2010, including 20 in the Majors.
Chacin went 14-10 with a 3.47 ERA last season. This season, he was 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 starts, and saw a decided drop in velocity. Chacin and the Rockies decided on the MRI to determine why he was having trouble loosening his arm before and during games, and why he was having to curtail between-starts work because of fatigue and soreness.
It's the second injury-affected season in the last three for Chacin, who battled a mysterious loss of power in 2012 before a nerve issue was discovered in a chest muscle. He went 3-5 with a 4.43 ERA in 14 starts that year. Chacin has a career 38-48 record with a 3.78 ERA in six seasons, all with the Rockies.
The cause of the issues is unclear. Chacin normally participates in winter ball in Venezuela. This year he didn't participate, but often as a career progresses, players back off from winter competition, and Major League teams encourage them to back off for needed rest.
Dugger did not criticize Chacin's offseason program, which involved some work in Florida with former Major Leaguer Wilson Alvarez and time at the Rockies' training center in the Dominican Republic, which is where the problems flared up.
"The hard part for us is he finished the  season normal," Dugger said. "What did he do? Sometimes we don't have answers. Maybe he didn't do anything. Maybe it was just time for it to break down when he was trying to throw.
"When he wasn't playing winter ball, he was playing catch and feeling good. When you take a lot of [Latin American] guys out of their routine of playing winter ball, it screws them up more because they're used to throwing."
Dugger said the "normal" he referred to at the end of 2013 does not mean pristine, because an MRI on any Major League pitcher will reveal some fraying and tearing of the labrum. Teams get a baseline reading of the damage, and any time there is undue pain or fatigue the new results are compared to the baseline to see if there is further damage.