And why it seems more prudent for Tanaka to just have the surgery
Geez, you’d think it would be bad enough having a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament during your rookie season. A season in which people are throwing your name around for not only Rookie of the Year but also the Cy Young Award? A season where you are leading the league in wins (12) and complete games (3). A season in which you were named an All-Star.
Imagine you also just found out that the organization you work for wants you to try six weeks of intense rehab to see if it will maybe allow you to pitch the remainder of the season, even though their is only a slight possibility that your team will make the playoffs. Instead you could already be having the surgery you are most likely going to end up having causing you to be out of the sport you love and excel at for the next year.
Personally I think that’s a lot for a 25-year old to take. Apparently the New York Yankees’ star starting pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, thought that he needed to publicly apologize for his injury. I don’t believe I ever remember a player doing that, I mean I am sure it has happened, probably more than once but to apologize for something you can’t control seems …. I don’t know, just sad.
As if he doesn’t already have enough to face in the coming month – possibly (and most likely) year – he is blaming himself for an injury. It isn’t as if he sustained the injury while drunk by getting in a bar fight the night before he starts a playoff game (and you never saw Tim Hudson apologizing for that in October 2003 now did you?!) …. Here is Tanaka’s apology courtesy of ESPN.com
“I give everything I have every time I take the ball. With that, I also know that there will always be a risk of injury when playing this game that I love. Right now I feel that the most important thing for me is to keep my head up, remain focused on the task at hand and devote all my energy into healing the injury in order to come back strong,” he said.
“I want to apologize to the Yankees organization, my teammates and our fans for not being able to help during this time. I accept this injury as a challenge, but I promise to do everything I can to overcome this setback and return to the mound as soon as possible.”
Poor guy. Feeling responsible for something that has happened to dozens of other pitchers this year alone and probably hundreds over the past 40 years, since Tommy John first had what was then a ground breaking procedure performed by Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974.
According to Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman, Tanaka has seen three doctors, all of whom agree that rehabilitation is a viable option, at this time, to fix Tanaka’s elbow. He also said, however, that Tommy John surgery could end up being a possiblity.
New York Mets ace Matt Harvey partially tore his UCL last year and attempted rehabilitation but eventually opted for the surgery. His recovery is currently going well and while it is optimistic of Harvey, he is still eyeing an end of the 2014 season return to baseball. Harvey has some advice for Tanaka based on his own experience,
“When it comes time to trying to work through it, it’s a personal decision. Going down and having Tommy John surgery is a personal decision in itself. Everybody is different. No one is saying that he can’t rehab and be completely fine and never have an issue again. For me, personally, it was a mental thing. It was something I didn’t want to continue thinking about,” Harvey said Thursday night in New York.
“I would tell him to just go with what you feel. I didn’t listen to anybody. I went off of my personal feelings. It’s your body that you want to throw with again. If you want to go out and try not to have it, and your mind is set to that and you’re 100 percent committed to that, then more power to you. If it’s the other way around, then go get it done.”
Sure there probably have been some pitchers who have successfully come back from a partially torn UCL without having surgery but I can’t name one offhand.
Chad Billingsley was one brought to my attention earlier today but I just read … he tried to rehab but eventually was forced to have surgery so overall I’d say go with the surgery. Anything with the word “torn” in it …doesn’t sound all that “rehabable” (yea, I just made that word up) to me!! If you can name a pitcher who has really comeback from a torn UCL to their previous form without having Tommy John surgery PLEASE leave a comment! …. And back to my original point … how much pressure are the Yankees’ putting on this kid … well the $155 million is too I suppose … but I don’t think you should have to apologize for an injury – unless you caused it doing something stupid (heeeyyyy Tim Hudson*!).
Many won’t remember or even know of this incident, but I worked in tv for the A’s at the time and that was the intel I got from some very credible sources.