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Tommy John surgery has been refined and perfected to the point where some recipients can be back in a year or a little less like nothing ever happened to them. A year is still a long time, though, and there are still many cases where a TJ procedure near the end of a season means a player will miss the entire next campaign, too. That could change, at least for some players, if Seth Maness manages to prove the effectiveness of a new surgery.
The procedure Maness underwent in August is called "primary repair," but if it takes and becomes a staple in MLB, maybe it’ll be renamed after its first established recipient. Even though he underwent this elbow procedure on August 18, he’s expected to be ready by Opening Day — just seven-and-a-half months after surgery. The difference between primary repair and TJ is that TJ is a complete reconstruction of the elbow ligament and surrounding area: primary repair is, as the name suggests, a "repair and buttressing" of the existing ligament. It’s such a new procedure that MLB is using the same medical code for Maness that they would for a TJ recipient, so teams are operating under the assumption he’ll be out for a significant chunk of 2017 when he could very well be pitching on Opening Day — if only someone would sign him.
The average recovery time for the surgeries performed so far is six-and-a-half months, roughly half the recovery time of Tommy John. Of the 50 surgeries performed, none of them have resulted in the need for a later TJ in order to fix what primary repair could not. It should be stressed that this isn’t going to be the surgery for everyone, but there are likely going to be cases where the tear is such that Tommy John isn’t needed, and primary repair can do the trick instead. It should be a middle ground between a PRP injection and full-blown TJ, and that means more pitchers missing less time.
You should read the full breakdown of the procedure and when it could be done, because it very well could be a major part of the future of surgery in baseball.
- Bryce Harper got married, so that’s one more handsome face off the market. Don’t worry, your favorite team still might be able to sign him in a couple of years.
- Here are the pros and cons of Trevor Plouffe on the A’s.
- Max Scherzer won’t pitch in the World Baseball Classic thanks to rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger, but his teammate Tanner Roark will.
- Jay Bruce is likely to be traded soon, if you believe the rumors. And since it’s Jan. 12 and there’s no real baseball for quite some time, rumors are all you have.
- Unless you’re the Mariners, anyway. Then you have trades, plural. First, they acquired Mallex Smith and Shae Simmons from the Braves for a couple of minor league pitchers. Then, they dealt Smith and a couple of others to the Rays for Drew Smyly.
- You might be asking yourself "Who is Mallex Smith?" but don’t worry, there is an answer for you.
- Pablo Sandoval got in trouble with the Red Sox for failing to keep himself in shape, and then he even admitted that he kind of stopped trying once he signed a big deal. He’s changed his tune and his look, though, and hopefully it’s good news for everyone involved.
- Speaking of change, the Dodgers are counting on a more mature Yasiel Puig in 2017.