PHOENIX -- D-backs closer J.J. Putz will avoid surgery after an MRI revealed no major damage to his throwing elbow. Diagnosed with a sprained UCL ligament, the timetable for the 36-year-old's return is uncertain as of Thursday, but Putz will be shut down for at least two weeks before the club re-evaluates.
"I think we dodged a bullet," Putz said of not needing surgery. "It's not great but it could've been a lot worse. I was pretty pleased, it's a big sigh of relief."
The right-hander was first placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday after experiencing stiffness in the elbow while throwing in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game against the Dodgers.
In 2011, Putz endured a similar injury to his elbow and missed exactly four weeks from June 29 to July 26.
"It's pretty similar," Putz said. "Hopefully it won't be any [longer] than that."
Putz had struggled so far this year before getting hurt, converting just five saves in nine opportunities, but he wasn't sure when the injury occurred or if it affected him before Tuesday.
"It's hard to say, something is always nagging," he said. "So you don't read too much into it until you feel something that you haven't felt."
While Putz rests his elbow, he'll still try to remain a force in the D-backs clubhouse, even if that means taking on a new role for him.
"Just try to be a good cheerleader, maybe get some pom-poms," he said. "I'll just get the work done and stay out of guys ways."
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said Wednesday that reliever Heath Bell will initially get the save chances in Putz's absence, with David Hernandez remaining in his eighth-inning role.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.