Freak Accident Keeps Pawelek in Arizona

When the Cubs sent top pitching prospect Mark Pawelek to Extended Spring Training in Mesa, Ariz., this past April, they had their reasons. Among them, they wanted the 20-year-old to fine-tune his mechanics and to throw strikes consistently before resurfacing later on in the summer at short-season Class Low-A Boise.

In the end, the only thing that really stood in the way of Pawelek's return trip to the Northwest League and Boise, he says, was ... his PlayStation.

Just as the Cubs' 2005 first-round draft pick was getting prepared to leave Arizona last week for the start of short-season play, the left-hander sustained a fractured radial head in his non-throwing right elbow.

And not even Pawelek expects you to believe how it happened.

"I got up out of the bed to use the bathroom at about 1:30 in the morning. I was walking in the dark and tripped on my PlayStation. I hit my arm right on the corner of the wall. I fell down and landed on my arm wrong," Pawelek told Inside The Ivy from Mesa Tuesday.

"Nobody has believed me when I've told them how it happened. Like I've told everybody, I'll take a picture of the wall where I put a dent in it. I must have put all my weight into it and hit it really good with my elbow," he said.

Pawelek was examined by team doctors and will remain in Arizona for the next several weeks. But the injury does not necessarily mean that Pawelek will miss the remainder of the season, the Cubs say.

"Because it was his non-throwing arm, he could be pitching some time in August," Cubs Farm Director Oneri Fleita acknowledged Tuesday.

Last summer, Pawelek made 12 starts for Boise and finished the year 3-5 with a 2.51 ERA in 61 innings, striking out 52 and walking 23.

He made two apearances in the bullpen with Class-A Peoria this past April but then went to Extended Spring Training, where he made several starts over the past two months.

Pawelek insists he can pitch today – broken arm and all.

"If I hadn't said anything, I'd have gone up to Boise and pitched," said Pawelek. "I'm going to go back for my four-week checkup and I'm just going to tell them I'm fine. For an arm that's been broken for three and a half days now, it feels great. I can move it pretty good now.

"It's doctor's orders now for six weeks, but when four weeks go by, I'm going to show them I can pitch. I can straighten my arm a little now, which before I couldn't do. I'm healing up pretty quickly. I can still pitch," he said.

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