Paging Tommy John: Pitchers having painful spring

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm •  Published: March 18, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jarrod Parker, Kris Medlen and Luke Hochevar are out for the season, Patrick Corbin and Brandon Beachy might join them in the operating room.

All over spring training, there's been an outbreak of wrecked elbows and pained pitchers.

Next stop, those dreaded words: Tommy John surgery.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," Tommy John himself said Tuesday. "Tommy John surgery will grow exponentially in the next 50 years."

"I really think there will come a day when if you have 12 pitchers on your staff, 10 will have had Tommy John surgery," the 70-year-old lefty told The Associated Press from his home in Watertown, N.Y.

Still, this recent wave makes Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell wince.

"It grabs all of our attention," he said before his World Series champions played the New York Yankees. "There's a rash of it going on right now."

"Regardless of who they play for, it's a sad day when you read about a guy that's having the surgery," he said. "You empathize with the guys going down. There's a long road ahead of them."

As to why so many sudden cases, Farrell isn't sure.

"It makes you scratch your head," the former big league pitcher said. "I don't have an explanation."

Stars Stephen Strasburg, Adam Wainwright, Tim Hudson, John Lackey and Joe Nathan are among the dozens of pitchers who have come back strong from the ligament transplant procedure.

Young Mets ace Matt Harvey, who threw the first pitch at last summer's All-Star game, had the surgery in October. He's working out in camp and hopes to pitch this year.

"I think after watching what happened to a couple guys on the Braves, everybody's always going to so cautious about the recovery, but as a competitor we're always going to want to get back on the field," he said Tuesday.

One trend Farrell has detected: "What's happening more is guys going for a second one," he said.

The NL East champion Braves took a double hit with injuries to Medlen and Beachy, both of whom previously had Tommy John surgery.

The AL West champion Athletics once again lost Parker to the operation. He was scheduled to start on opening day. Teammate A.J. Griffin might be more fortunate — his sore elbow might heal on its own.