Tommy John surgery, now nearly 40 years after its namesake underwent the first such procedure, is considered routine. Dozens of pitchers in the major and minor leagues undergo it each year, and many of them return stronger than they were before. Tommy John himself had almost 15 seasons in the major leagues after his surgery, and was a key contributor to World Series teams.
So that’s the good news for Pelfrey. The bad news is 12 to 18 months of rehab to get back to pitching form. That seems a small price to pay to save a career.
Pelfrey is 28. Tommy John surgery generally means 12 to 18 months before a pitcher can get back on a major league mound, so it’s possible Pelfrey won’t be back pitching before 2014. Even then, though, he’d be just 30, so he could still come back and have several productive seasons, assuming the surgery is successful.
For the time being, righthander Chris Schwinden will take over Pelfrey’s spot in the Mets rotation.
Tuesday, it became Mike Pelfrey's turn to leave the New York Mets and visit the disabled list. I'm just spit-balling here, but the Mets probably wouldn't lose so many players to the disabled list if they didn't make their disabled list so comfortable and luxurious. Pelfrey was placed on the DL with elbow inflammation, which could be minor or could be major, but according to a report, Pelfrey's problem leans more toward the major side of things. Adam Rubin:
Mets officials are aware that Mike Pelfrey has suffered a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and are bracing to lose the right-hander to season-ending surgery, a major league source told ESPNNewYork.com.
The UCL is the ligament that gets replaced in Tommy John surgery. When a pitcher has a complete tear of the UCL, he needs Tommy John, or he needs to retire. When a pitcher has a partial tear of the UCL, he can choose between Tommy John and non-surgical rehab, but what often happens when a pitcher chooses rehab is that he ends up having surgery anyway. So, we'll await further word with Pelfrey. The source says the Mets are preparing to lose Pelfrey for 2012, and if his UCL is damaged, well, that's the sensible thing to do.