“This is a pandemic” – Former MLB trainer opens up on grave health issue that has star pitchers dropping like flies

“This is a pandemic” – Former MLB trainer opens up on grave health issue that has star pitchers dropping like flies

Some top MLB pitchers have recently announced season-ending Tommy John surgery plans

Some top MLB pitchers have recently announced season-ending Tommy John surgery plans

Over the weekend, MLB fans received news that several of the league’s top pitchers would be undergoing Tommy John surgery, effectively ending their respective seasons.

It began on Saturday, when the Guardians announced that former AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber would need to undergo the procedure. Shortly thereafter, the Yankees indicated that reliever Jonathan Loaisiga would undergo the procedure before the Braves came out to say they would likely be losing 2023 NL strikeouts leader Spencer Stider as well.

In a piece for USA Today, analyst Bob Nightengale dubbed the events of the weekend “the most costly 24-hour span for pitchers in Major League Baseball history.” Included in Nightengale’s piece were some words from former pro trainer Stan Conte, who said of the pervasive issue of pitchers falling victim to Tommy John surgery:

“This is a pandemic. It’s been going on forever, and it’s getting worse.”

Named after former New York Yankees pitcher Tommy John, Ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction is becoming more frequent in MLB. Involving replacing the UCL in the elbow with a tendon from another part of the body, the league has witnessed an uptick in pitchers needing to undergo this corrective response.

“MLB injury problem ‘getting worse’ as aces Bieber, Strider fall victim” – Bob Nightengale

According to researcher Jon Roegele, 35.6 percent of MLB pitchers have now undergone Tommy John surgery, which represents a 10% increase from 2017.

Conto, who previously worked for the LA Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, claims that increased throwing velocity is to blame. Perhaps even more interestingly, only one pitcher, John Smoltz, has successfully undergone the surgery and still managed to make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame

Tommy John surgery remains a scary prospect for top pitchers

In the case of Cleveland Guardians ace Shane Bieber, news of his impending season-ending surgery stung. After spending two months on the IL last season, the 28-year old was looking to get back in top shape. According to Guardians’ president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti’s words to the Akron Beacon Journal:

“He’s devastated by it. He feels as though he is letting a lot of people down. And I tried to reassure Shane that couldn’t be further from the truth”

No pitchers knows when, or if they’ll need Tommy John surgery. However, it is a prospect that remains as threatening and career-threatening as ever, and looks set on becoming even more so.

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