Dan's Dugout: Elbow Surgery Plagues Pitchers • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Elbow Surgery Plagues Pitchers


FLUSHING – One out of three major-league pitchers have had Tommy John surgery.

It seems that the harder they throw, the faster they fall.

Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine avoided Tomy John surgery. Photo/Tom DiPace)

Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine avoided Tomy John surgery.
Credit: Tom DiPace

Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, both 300-game winners, never had it but John Smoltz, the third member of the long-time Atlanta troika, did. Not surprisingly, he was a power pitcher.

So what did pitchers do before Tommy John allowed Dr. Frank Jobe to transplant a ligament from his leg into his left elbow?

Mostly, they grinned and grimaced but labored on – perhaps because ballplayers had one-yer contracts before the days of free agency.

Carl Erskine, the great righthander of the Brooklyn Dodgers, constantly complained of elbow pain but pitched as long and hard as he could. Landing on the disabled list was a stigma in the ‘50s.

Maybe he should have picked up a knuckleball. Phil Niekro, who preceded Maddux and Glavine to Cooperstown, never needed elbow repair. In fact, his workload was heavier than most.

R.A. Dickey, who started here Tuesday for the Braves against the Mets, probably would have avoided the surgery too – if he had the ligament. Beyond his unusual right arm, Dickey throws a variety of knuckleballs that don’t tax his physiology. That’s why he’s still a viable starter as he approaches his 43rd birthday.

R.A. Dickey is almost 43 but still going strong

R.A. Dickey is almost 43 but still going strong

Dickey’s Tuesday opponent at CitiField, Rafael Montero, is an example of a highly-regarded prospect still pitching his way back. The righthander underwent the Tommy John procedure in 2015.

Fellow Mets starter Matt Harvey, who also had it, has yet to recapture his former form.

Celebrated pitching coach Leo Mazzone believes that pitchers who throw more often will be hurt less often. But his unorthodox theories, which include throwing twice between starts, conflict with most managers, whose thinking is only slightly less conservative than Steve Bannon.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Aaron Judge is just the fifth Yankee to hit 50 homers in a season, joining Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Alex Rodriguez . . .

Joe Girardi's wild-card idea makes good sense

Joe Girardi’s wild-card idea makes good sense

Yankees manager Joe Girardi insists baseball would be better-served if the sudden-death wild-card game were a best-of-three series instead . . .

Luis Severino, coming off a stellar second half, will start the wild-card game for the Yankees against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium next Tuesday . . .

Heading into play Tuesday, Mets starters had a 5.16 composite earned run average, fourth-worst in the majors . . .

Toronto fans used a standing ovation to salute long-time Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, whose option is not likely to be renewed . . .

The Kansas City Royals remain worried about losing a half-dozen prospective free agents, including ace lefthander Jason Vargas . . .

An untimely injury to Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado has dimmed his MVP chances . . .

Nolan Arenado's injury hurts his MVP chances Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports

Nolan Arenado’s injury hurts his MVP chances Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports

The son of Boston pilot John Farrell faced his dad when the Reds played the Red Sox in an interleague series over the weekend . . .

FanGraphs rates the Red Sox defense best in the bigs, with the Angels a close second . . .

Miami starter Edinson Volquez started the year well, with the only no-hitter of the season, butu ended it idling on the disabled list following – you guessed it – Tommy John surgery.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

Recommended for you