In yesterday’s link dump, we took a look at a story by Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci on the flaws in Stephen Strasburg’s mechanics and how they could affect his future health. In the article Verducci notes that pitchers who exhibit this mechanical flaw are more likely to face injuries to their arms than pitchers who don’t.
Most pitchers, after taking the ball out of their glove, swing the ball down and away from the body and then raise it in a way in which the throwing hand raises and then the elbow and shoulder follow. Think about the way you would draw back a whip before cracking it.
However, once Strasburg takes the ball out of the glove, down and away from his body, his right elbow, not his right hand, literally takes the leading role. Like re-writing a script, the roles in the kinetic chain are switched. Now it is the elbow that raises higher than the shoulder and the hand.
Verducci goes on to mention several pitchers who have similar mechanics and then required surgery, and while he doesn’t include him in the list of pitchers who have already had their UCL replaced, Blue Jays fans will be frightened to learn that top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek has a similar delivery motion to Strasburg. Drabek, of course, has already gone under the knife in 2007 for Tommy John surgery, but has since gone on to become one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball.
Still, how important are these mechanics to player evaluation?
I spoke with a key decision maker for one club last week who, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said his club will not consider any pitcher — by draft, trade or free agency — who does not have the baseball in the loaded position at the time of foot strike.
While there is a limit to the number of times that a pitcher can get Tommy John surgery because a player will eventually run out of tendons to replace the ligament, it’s not as uncommon as it once was for a pitcher to have the procedure performed twice. Will Carroll, also of Sports Illustrated, recently wrote a piece breaking down some of the myths, describing the rehabilitation process and noting how the surgery has developed since it was first performed in 1974.
While no one wants to see a pitcher miss a year of action because their elbow needs reconstructing, the future for that pitcher isn’t nearly as grim as it once was. Carroll speaks with Dr. Tim Kremchek, the Cincinnati Reds physician and a Tommy John surgeon.
Much like ACL reconstruction in football, where we’re seeing some kids back on the field in four to five months, we’re seeing the same sort of thing with elbows. With the newer, more holistic rehab processes, I’m seeing most players ready in a year, maybe a little less. They’re focused on the core, on mobilizing the arm, on proprioception, and that has them back and ready to go. A guy hurts his arm and has the surgery, then he vanishes. We don’t see him in the media again until he’s throwing and getting ready to do a rehab assignment. We’re seeing him every day in rehab, but with a player like Steven Strasburg, where every move is watched, it might look like throwing like he is at six months is unusual. It’s not.
Carroll also posts some video of the procedure being done on a cadaver arm. As you might expect, it isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s fascinating if you can stomach a severed arm being worked on.
And The Rest
It’s Kendrys Morales not Kendry. But no matter the name, he’s still been a disappointment.
The Kansas City Royals’ mascot’s wiener went in someone’s eye and now they’re suing. I love America.
More details have come out in Miguel Cabrera’s DUI arrest from a couple of weeks ago including the fact that he was almost tasered and threatened the lives of the patrons of the bar in which he was drinking.
Jon Garland will start the season on the Disabled List.
Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel will be kicking around for a couple more years.
There was an incredibly frightening moment at the Braves Spring Training game yesterday. Fortunately, it sounds as though coach Luis Salazar won’t have any permanent damage after getting hit in the head with a foul ball driven into the dugout.
Ryan Dempster exhibits some of that well-known Canadian wit.
A new baseball book promotes itself by trolling.
Ozzie Guillen is the Charlie Sheen of baseball, but without the pornography and drugs.
Brendan Donnelly announced he is retiring from baseball. You didn’t feel the earth shaking to its core yesterday?
Could Ramon Santiago be a target for the Phillies after the latest bad news for Chase Utley’s knee?
Let’s look at the career of Nick Johnson, shall we?
The Mets are getting a rough ride even from the hometown fans.
Finally, the Batting Stance Guy expands his game and pokes fun at baseball documentaries.