Bringing the Heat=Bringing the Tommy John Surgery?
I’ve been meaning to write about this medical report for a while now. The phrase “Tommy John surgery” is one feared by players and fans alike. While it’s become quite a successful surgery, it still requires a pitcher to miss about a year of time. There seems to have been a spike in these surgeries lately, most notably to two of the top young pitchers in the game: Jose Fernandez of the Marlins and Matt Harvery of the Mets.
There are currently studies being done on why this is happening. There are plenty of theories out there, but who knows if they are accurate, or just conjecture. Not too long ago, James Andrews, a very respected doctor in the sports world, wrote a brief paper about this topic. Some more of the interesting statements:
- One of the major risk factors for tearing the UCL was the amount of competitive pitching. Too much of it is not good. This could have implications for kids on teams that play year round I would imagine. That seems to be the norm these days. It also says pitchers should be “wary” of pitching in the winter leagues. There’s a wives tale today that pitchers today break down more often than in the “old days” because of the way they are monitored. It doesn’t seem like that’s the case.
- Pitchers should not always throw with 100% effort. This may be easy for starters, but I would imagine relievers, especially closers, would have a tough time with this. Most closers are all about throwing as hard as possible for the inning that they are in the game.
- Pitchers who throw hard are at an increased risk of getting the injury. This makes you wonder if teams would shy away from a guy who throws 95+ for a guys throws 90-95. Probably not, but you never know, especially if the guy who throws very hard has poor mechanics, another risk factor listed.
The paper also lists a few myths, including the one about pitchers being able to throw harder when they return from Tommy John surgery. You hear this one all the time, but while it may be true in some cases, it’s due to the intense rehab done, not the surgery itself. Another one you hear a lot is that the curveball causes injury to young kids pitching. The paper says that while that is not the case, they probably shouldn’t throw it anyway.