It turned out to be just that.
Contreras had a MRI exam Saturday morning and the Phillies said results showed he completely tore the UCL and flexor pronator tendon in his right elbow, ending his season. It is a big blow to a bullpen that had just started pitching better after struggling the first six weeks of the season. Contreras, who said he felt completely healthy before that one fateful pitch, was 1-0 with a 5.27 ERA in 17 appearances, but had a 1.86 ERA in his last 11 appearances before injuring himself Friday.
"I'm very, very disappointed," Contreras said through his translator, Phillies third-base coach Juan Samuel. "Going back to last year, it was in April [when I got hurt], I tried to come back, made some attempts, I worked really hard after surgery [in September]. I worked hard in Spring Training. Even though I felt when I came back that I wasn't where I needed to be, I worked hard and my command was there in the last four, five outings. To have this happen again, it's very disappointing."
Contreras, 40, had flexor pronator surgery in September. The Phillies said they will get a second opinion from orthopedist Lewis Yocum, who performed the surgery.
Contreras said he plans to have surgery and will try to pitch again, although he knows the odds are stacked against him.
"It's difficult having a second surgery, but I'll see after the surgery," he said. "It's going to be hard, but I'll give it a shot."
"I feel badly for him," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He worked pretty hard to get back to the point where he started to be pretty effective. It's a tough piece of news to take."
The injury leaves Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Qualls, Jake Diekman, Joe Savery, Raul Valdes and Michael Schwimer -- who the Phillies recalled to take Contreras' place -- in the bullpen. The Phillies have relievers Mike Stutes, David Herndon and Justin De Fratus on the DL, leaving them very thin.
Contreras had started to work himself into the setup role, but that might fall to Bastardo now.
"Bastardo's been doing fine," Amaro said.
But Phillies manager Charlie Manuel on Friday expressed his concerns about the team's bullpen depth.
"We need some bullpen pieces," Manuel said. "We need some. We needed some when the game started tonight. And now we need more."