Tommy John surgery has been a big deal in Major League Baseball for several decades and more recently it seems that we can’t go more than a few weeks in any given season without hearing of a pitcher needing to undergo the procedure to repair a torn ulnar-collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.
The procedure typically means an absence from the mound for 10-14 months these days, but it can linger beyond that and sometimes a pitcher is never the same. Given this, the medical world has been seeking alternatives in recent years.
The latest comes in the case of Cardinals relief pitcher Seth Maness. On Aug. 18 of last season, Maness went under the knife for an alternative procedure to Tommy John and he’s now throwing from 90 feet. He’s set to throw off a mound this week.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the full story and I highly recommend hopping over to read it. As for a quick snippet regarding the procedure, here:
The surgery Maness had, called “primary repair,” doesn’t have the sexy name. It doesn’t have the brand recognition of Tommy John. But it also doesn’t have the lengthy recovery time of its famous forefather. It is a repair and buttressing of the existing ligament at the bone, not Tommy John’s reconstruction of the ligament.
Again, there’s a lot more included in Goold’s article, so please check it out.
This isn’t the first attempt to find an alternative to Tommy John surgery. We saw in the case of Garrett Richards last season where he went with a stem-cell treatment and was cleared to throw 12 weeks afterward. Richards is set to throw this month and — barring setbacks, which are entirely possible — head up the Angels’ rotation this season.
On the preventative front, we covered a new elbow brace from Bauerfeind Sports in conjunction with Dr. James Andrews that could help matters here as well.
All of this should be monitored. It’s possible we’ll start seeing more of Dr. Andrews’ brace and we should keep an eye on how Richards and Maness progress heading into the 2017 season. Tommy John surgery was a great technology, but as time moves on, sometimes better alternatives are discovered. Maybe we won’t have to keep losing great pitchers for more than a full season.
Source: General Sports