We live in an era where baseball players are bigger, faster and stronger, in better shape than ball players have ever been. Yet not a day goes by where we don’t hear of a player suffering a season ending injury. The most notable of the bunch is a UCL tear, which leads to the infamous Tommy John Surgery. A study done in 2013 showed that 1/3 of the all pitchers in MLB have undergone the surgery at some point in their careers. That is a staggering number that should not be deemed the “price of doing business.”
When Dr. Frank Jobe performed the first surgery on pitcher Tommy John in 1974, I’m not quite sure he knew the impact he would be making on the game of baseball. The surgery is revolutionary, having saved hundreds of careers throughout the years, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest advancements in sports medicine in the last 40 years. But did anyone think we would see the day when parents are pushing their teenage sons to undergo the surgery to “get it out-of-the-way.” Well, that’s what’s happening out in the world today and I’m not sure how Dr. Jobe would feel about that.
The first month of the baseball season isn’t even complete and we already have many high-profile pitchers going down. The list includes Atlanta’s Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, Oakland’s Jarrod Parker, Arizona’s David Hernandez and Patrick Corbin, Tampa’s Matt Moore, The Mets’ Bobby Parnell and The Yankees Ivan Nova could be added to the list any day now. That isn’t even counting the dozen of pitchers who are rehabbing from their surgery and dozens more that will undergo the procedure as the season progresses. Last year, the White Sox alone saw eight, yes eight, pitchers in their organization go down with this injury. It’s a scary thought knowing one of your pitchers could go down for the year at any moment without any warning. Continue reading
In the least surprising news of the Mets season so far, it has been decided that Bobby Parnell will undergo Tommy John surgery. Continue reading
Stephen Strasburg has offered up some advice for the rehabbing Matt Harvey: Take it slow. Strasburg, was in Harvey’s same position just a few years ago. He took the league by storm upon his arrival in 2010, but it was short-lived by season ending surgery that cost him a full year. Strasburg’s situation is eerily similar to Harvey, whose domination was abruptly ended by an elbow injury last season.
Strasburg shared these words from his experiences “It can flip on you,’’ He said of the rehab process. “You’ll feel great one day and the next day it’s terrible. The best advice I got was, ‘Look where you were at the start of the month and then at the end of the month. Don’t look at where you were yesterday.’ ”
Harvey and Strasburg are each represented by super agent Scott Boras, Strasburg offered to help out the fellow Boras client if he needs it “I told Scott, if Matt ever needs anything, call me,’’ Strasburg said. “I’ve been through it. I know by judging how hard he works he should be, hopefully, fine.’’
Unfortunately, Harvey initially opted to rest his elbow in hopes of recovering the natural way. After a few months of deliberating and receiving some further medical opinions, he opted for Tommy John surgery in October. Despite Harvey’s mindset on returning in late 2014, that goal seems unlikely as the Mets will be cautious with their young ace.
In any case, I can’t wait to watch these two go head-to-head next season. I was fortunate enough to be at the game last year when a “Harvey’s better” chant broke out as he out-dueled Strasburg in Citi Field. Don’t remember? Here’s a reminder of how awesome that night was.
Mets ace Matt Harvey was cleared today by his medical team to begin throwing a baseball. Harvey is only four months removed from Tommy John surgery, but this news marks the first step in his goal of returning to the mound. This is great news for both Harvey and the Mets, now we have to be patient with our 24-year-old.
“Since it is four months out, the process is going to be slow. I have to not push things.” Harvey said, regarding his discussion with his doctor “He just wanted to make sure I knew that and I was clear with that. Obviously we’re not going to push things early. But, for me, being able to wear my glove and pick up a ball again is a good sign.”
Harvey has publicly stated his desire to do his rehab work in NY, most rehabbing players spend their time in Port St. Lucie, but he would like to be closer to his home. This would also allow him to be with the team during home stands, where he could bond with his younger teammates and continue to learn the league from the bench. Everything about that sounds great, but will this ultimately turn into a distraction?
In only a short amount of time, Harvey has taken this city by storm. When he emerged late in the 2012 season, he quickly caught the eye of Mets fans and the rest of baseball. But it was his 2013 campaign really put him on the map as a star in the making. He was featured in a Jimmy Fallon show skit, could be seen on celebrity row for countless Rangers games, did a tabloid grabbing interview for GQ Magazine, dated Super-Model Anne V and oh yeah, was the starting pitcher for the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Harvey became one of the hottest athletes in NYC, everyone wanted a piece of him.
Personally, I don’t care what Harvey does off the field, as long as it doesn’t affect his performance on the mound. I only raise this questions because I know there will be certain media outlets and reporters who will make it their mission to question his work ethic this season. Last season was different, you could find him on the mound every 5th day, no matter what else he did that week. Now, he won’t be throwing off the mound in Citi Field, and many will be ready to jump at the opportunity to question his lifestyle during his rehab process.
Harvey does seem to be very mature for his age, just watch one interview and you will be shocked by his poise at such a young age. But every once in a while he surprises me with his actions, for example his GQ interview last season. Whether he was misquoted or thought he was speaking off the record, you have to be smarter than that. These guys are not your friend, they are using you to make a name for themselves. Or more recently, when WFAN’s Joe Benigo expressed his concerns for Harvey’s off the field headlines on air, Harvey became defensive and attacked these remarks via twitter while on vacation in Thailand. The only reason this story gathered any buzz was because of Harvey’s response. If something like that can trigger him while he is on vacation, imagine what it will be like when he is dealing with these questions in New York.
No one should question Harvey’s desire and determination to get back on the mound to help the Mets win. He has already thrown around the idea of trying to pitch down the stretch this season. Although this doesn’t sound to be a plausible plan, it’s that kind of attitude that has won over the fans. If I’m the Mets, I would be playing up his rehab throughout the season. Maybe have a crew monitoring his workouts and make it a feature on Mets Weekly. When the team is on road trips, I would throw him in the study and let him give insight on the games. Things like this will help keep him both in the spotlight and mentally focused on his return.
“I’d always love to pitch and get back out there, but I don’t make those decisions,” Harvey said regarding a return in 2014. “I can only stay with the doctors and prepare to the best of my ability. If things can work out quicker than normal, then we’ll see. But I can’t make that call. … I haven’t really talked to them in-depth about that. I know they don’t want me to push, and I’m definitely not going to force things to happen earlier. If they happen to come quicker, then that’s where we’re going to go.”
As Jerry Seinfeld recently stated, the Mets finally have a “cool guy”. Harvey has all the intangibles to be a star both on and off the field, he just has to remain committed to what got him there in the first place. I don’t foresee Harvey doing anything personally to make his rehab a distraction, I worry more about his reaction to the media that will be out to get him. If he is able to go about his business and keep reporters out of his mind, Harvey should be just fine.
But please, stop teasing us with these pitching in 2014 remarks. You’re surgery broke our hearts enough, don’t tease us like that.