Perhaps there was more to the story on Ricky Romero‘s nightmare season after all.
The Toronto Blue Jays lefty told the press yesterday that he had chosen to undergo minor arthroscopic surgery on his elbow earlier this month, after a MRI conducted at the end of the season proved to be inconclusive. The exploratory surgery, which was done to clean up some “scar tissue” and other things that was deemed to be potential causes for concern, was performed by Dr. Lewis Yokum, whom the team likely has “preferred customer” status with at this point.
According to Romero, he decided to go through with the MRI after some late-season soreness that he deemed to be normal, and was given the option to take a cortisone shot to delay a potential future surgery, or to go through with the procedure now. He chose the latter on his own accord, and will go through a extended recovery period, but not enough to affect his readiness for spring training in the upcoming 2013 season.
The big question here, of course, is how much of this information do we take at Romero’s word? He’s said that he doesn’t think that the elbow soreness impacted his performance during the season, but also that he’ll “never know”; so, was he pitching hurt longer than he’d indicated? Romero’s season went south rather early on, so if his performance was injury-related, the degree to which he and the team are playing down the surgical procedure doesn’t quite add up. If it’s not injury-related and everything was just normal at the end of the season, why did the MRI (which isn’t exactly a normal procedure) come up?
It doesn’t look too good either way. Romero, as much of a competitor as he might be, has no good reason to tough out an injury: he’s said that the team would “have to chop of his left arm” to keep him from the mound, but the impact of concealing an injury for the sake of pride hurts the Blue Jays long-term, and his poor performance hurt the team on the scoreboard all season long.
If the MRI and surgery was genuinely something that they just happened to decide on at the end of the season, there’ll be the question marks about Romero’s health going forward, especially when you consider that the pitcher also received platelet-rich plasma injections to his knees to alleviate tendinitis to his quads; a relatively straightforward treatment, but not for former Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Litsch, who had complications from the injections that nearly ended his career. Elbow problems and knee issues coming off a career-worst season isn’t a good mix for optimism.
There’s not much of best-case scenario for Romero, really. Maybe he was just terrible in 2012 for other reasons, and the MRI exam and minor surgery are totally unrelated. He’ll face some questions in the spring about how his elbow feels, but that’d be about it. Or, Romero pitched with a bum elbow all season long, didn’t tell the team about it until the end of the season, and that it resulted in him choosing to go through surgery to clean up the damage done.
Hopefully that’s just my cynicism talking, but I guess we’ll never know. That said, if Romero suffers any sort of injury next season that is even seemingly-related, those questions are only going to get louder.