It appears to have been of the minor variety– if there even is such a thing when it comes to surgery on a pitcher’s shoulder– but according to a team release, the Jays’ closer “underwent successful right shoulder surgery to repair lingering AC joint soreness on Friday, November 16.”
What month is this, June? I thought we were done with this shit!
“Janssen, 31,” the release continues, “had the small portion of the end of his clavicle shaved down to relieve the discomfort. The surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles and the 6-3, 204 lb. right-hander is expected to be ready for spring training.”
Janssen lost his 2008 season to major shoulder surgery, and according to the injury database at Baseball Prospectus, spent much of the next season dealing with shoulder issues as well. But he’s been fine since, and certainly didn’t appear to be hampered by any issues with the shoulder this season, repeating his breakout success of 2011 and winning the club’s closer role in the process.
Forgive me for not being alarmist, but frankly, the blanket term “shoulder surgery” sounds a lot more ominous here than need be. Some quick research shows that Mariano Rivera had an AC joint procedure between the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and I’m pretty sure he turned out OK afterward. Sure, that’s just one example involving a ridiculous freak of nature, but there’s still reason to feel OK about this. For example, as a New York Daily News piece on Rivera’s surgery explains, “the AC joint does not play as critical a role during the throwing motion” [as the labrum or rotator cuff].
The joint is at the top of the shoulder, linking the collarbone to the shoulder blade, not “inside,” and the procedure appears– exactly as the release says– to be more about clearing cartilage for the purpose of pain relief than actual shoulder function. It is done arthroscopically, not by opening the shoulder up, which means that the recovery time is far shorter than if there were a problem with the labrum or the rotator cuff, and the release is indeed likely correct that Janssen should be ready for the spring.
No, it’s not exactly the kind of news you want to hear about one of your club’s most dependable relievers, but definitely not anywhere close to the same level of concern is warranted for this as it was over Janssen’s 2008 labrum tear. So… y’know… relax.