Michael Pineda's torn labrum is a pretty important baseball story, and here's how you know it's a pretty important baseball story: Curt Schilling has weighed in on it. Schilling, you see, had surgery on his labrum nearly two decades ago, recovered quickly, and went on to have an outstanding career. What does he think about Pineda's situation? Let's ask him, because he's only too willing to tell.
"He can be back better than he has ever been in 10 months," said Schilling, now an ESPN baseball analyst. "Maybe less, because he is younger. It is going to be 100 percent on him."
"I came back after my surgery, throwing four to six miles harder than I did before," he said. "That is where the magic is. It is all about rehab. Most doctors can make you 100 percent well physically. I would tell you that it is 25 percent about the surgery and 75 percent about the rehab."
Michael Pineda was given an approximate 12-month timetable, and Schilling thinks he can be back much sooner than that. In fact, Schilling seems to think he should be back much sooner than that, provided he's disciplined in his rehab. Schilling believes Pineda can recover quickly because Schilling recovered quickly.
Curt Schilling knows more about recovering from a torn labrum than I do, because Curt Schilling has recovered from a torn labrum. But Curt Schilling is just providing anecdotal evidence, which is worthless. What happened with Schilling doesn't mean anything for Pineda. What means something for Pineda is what happened with the entire pool of pitchers with torn labrums. And that's where we see mixed results.
Hell, this same article concludes by talking about Mark Mulder, who went under the knife and never came all the way back. What Schilling might say is that Mulder didn't rehab well enough. It isn't that simple.
This stuff is tricky. Schilling hasn't seen Pineda's medical file. Dr. Craig Morgan, who's quoted in the article, hasn't seen Pineda's medical file. They don't know what his situation is, they don't know how well the operation's going to go, and they don't know how well Pineda's body is going to heal. There's so much they don't know. It's definitely possible that Pineda could return ahead of schedule. No doubt. It's also possible that he could return behind schedule, or even never return at all. The timetables that players get are essentially averages. Averages come with error bars. Every average.
There have been a lot of advances. Most likely, a torn labrum becomes decreasingly serious for a pitcher with every passing day. Procedures get better, recoveries get faster. We don't know what's going to happen with Michael Pineda. Neither does Curt Schilling. He might think that he does, but Curt Schilling thinks a lot of things.