Tommy John Surgery, What Will it Mean?

Tommy John Surgery is thrown around a lot in baseball circles. So common is the phrase one might think it’s as natural as natural as say LASIK eye surgery in the off season (which can also have complications mind you). Though while LASIK eye surgery should certainly improve a player’s play, at least in theory (cough Nate McLouth cough), Tommy John Surgery is a recovery effort to salvage promising arms from a career threatening injury. Of course, there are several cases in which pitchers return from the procedure throwing at higher velocities than they enjoyed prior to going under the knife. In fact, some parents of younger pitchers have tried to have the surgery performed on their children in an effort to boost performance, even when the kid hasn’t suffered from any form of injury. Is it possible then that Stephen Strasburg, who is likely to find himself at the business end of a scalpel in the coming months, could enjoy a bump in his already physics redefining velocity? To be honest, it’s highly improbable that a post-surgery Strasburg could conceivably top out at anything faster than his blazing 103 mph pre-surgery fastball. Baseballs simply aren’t meant to travel at such high speeds unless shooting off the sweet spot of a big league bat. Many doctors suggest that any increased velocity is more the result of a heightened focus on conditioning and training. Strasburg should consider his self lucky if he is still able to approach his chart topping high end speeds 12 months from now. Of course, relying less on his velocity could make the youngster a better pitcher, forcing him to learn to pitch more shrewdly, less dependent on pure power.While Tommy John Surgery isn’t nearly as unpredictable as it was when Tommy John first braved the procedure in 1974, it is still far from routine. Experts estimate that just under 90 of all pitchers who chance the surgery enjoy a full recovery. Still the risk of complication is there, and any time you are rolling the dice on a multimillion dollar asset, it’s best fans in Washington keep their fingers crossed just for good measure. But with a little luck, and a lot of hard work on the part of Strasburg, Cooperstown is not out of the question one day, should the baseball gods so smile in his direction.

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