The more advanced we get with sports medicine, the more afraid I get that some of these guys are returning too fast. Tommy John surgery is a perfect example of one that some guys try to stretch. If they are on schedule to be healthy by around the end of May or June, they are likely to try to push themselves to be ready in time for Spring Training. That is great if it works, but it can also be a mistake.
The Minnesota Twins have such a situation with Mike Pelfrey.
He went down in May for Tommy John surgery last season, and here he is, almost ten months removed and is pitching from the mound in spring games. By all appearances, things are going really well.
His velocity is above where it usually is at this point in the spring by five or six mph. He isn’t getting everyone out and doesn’t have things perfectly down, but a lot of guys don’t right now. That’s all good news right?
Maybe it is, but maybe it’s not. I remember when John Smoltz went away for surgery on his elbow. He came back too soon, and his elbow was never the same.
Pelfrey is still plenty young enough to be able to return to full health. If I were the Twins’ staff, I would suggest that Pelfrey takes it easy. The team should make sure he isn’t hurting and hiding it because he wants that rotation spot. It would be much better for him to join in late, than to have to leave early and miss a year and a half this time.