CHICAGO -- "It could have been a whole lot worse."
Those were the words on Tuesday from Pirates closer Matt Capps, who appears to have avoided a serious injury to his right elbow. In to try and save Monday's game, Capps was hit in the elbow -- hard enough that the seam marks on the baseball were branded onto his elbow for hours afterward -- on a line drive off the bat of Chicago's Geovany Soto.
Capps came out of the game immediately, though X-rays late on Monday night came back negative, confirming that there is no fracture.
"Good news," manager John Russell said. "Just seems to be a bad bruise."
"My elbow didn't hurt me until I got in [the clubhouse]," Capps explained. "I just had a shooting pain going down my forearm and then my ring finger and my pinkie finger. It hurt and tingled. By the time I got in here, they were completely numb. I couldn't feel them at all. And my elbow was starting to hurt.
"When it first happened, it sounded like a shotgun going off beside me," he added. "I thought my elbow was just blown up."
For now, the Pirates are holding off on putting Capps on the disabled list until the team gets a better feel for how much time the closer is likely to miss. He was scheduled to also meet with Cubs orthopedic surgeon Stephen Gryzlo before Tuesday's game in order to get another opinion.
Russell indicated that with the benefit of having an off-day on Thursday, a decision on whether to put Capps on the DL would likely come when the team returns home on Friday. In the meantime, Capps will be unavailable for these final two games in Chicago, leaving the Pirates with just six available relievers.
"I'm pretty sore right now," Capps said. "There is no way I could play catch today. I don't know if I could play catch tomorrow. Who knows? We've done a good job of icing it and keeping the inflammation down, so hopefully when I come out [on Wednesday], the range of motion will be better and I'll be able to pick up a ball."
The ball struck Capps on the same part of the elbow that was bruised earlier this month. Asked about the cruel coincidence, he shook his head: "It couldn't have been more right on it."
An MRI on the elbow early in May showed a small bruise on the bone in Capps' elbow and some slight fluid buildup. Capps missed six games then while he let his arm heal.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.