Saturday, May 10, 2014
"An Old Surgery Gets a New Wave of Participants" by Bojo
When Tommy John surgery, or in technical terms, a UCL reconstruction surgery, was first completed a number of decades ago, it was a virtual God-send for major league pitchers. The surgery, which brought back pitchers from the baseball dead for the first time, seemed like a miracle to player and fan alike; but part of that was the rarity with which it was attempted or needed.
However, the surgery is not all that rare anymore. With a peak in 2012 of 36 players undergoing Tommy John, there have already been (as of this writing) 15 players under the knife this season, in only 2-ish months of baseball. In the 15 seasons, before that, there were only 20 UCL surgeries performed on major leaguers.
There are a number of theories out there, but I personally subscribe to two. The first theory is that many players these days seems to opt for the surgery quickly after an injury instead of a long-term rehab plan, regardless of the intricacies of their specific injury. The results seem to support this option positively, so do what you have to do, I suppose.
Typical modern Tommy John recipient Matt Harvey
Because I doubt year-round travel baseball teams will ever stop now that they have been well established over the past decade or two, this frequency of surgeries might just be a part of the modern game, strangely enough.