Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Twins continue rehab philosophy for Tommy John candidates

Many fans of the Twins organization have been waiting to hear the news about two prospects that have been suffering from elbow issues. Kyle Gibson and Anthony Slama have been in the Twin Cities this week to meet with team doctors and to undergo a variety of tests on their injured throwing joints.

News came out yesterday that both of these players will not require surgery on their arms at this point. They are both headed to Florida to try rehabbing their injuries at the Twins Spring Training facility. Slama has a strained flexor pronator muscle and Gibson has the same strain as Slama along with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament.

The ulnar collateral ligament is the ligament that must be replaced in the elbow during Tommy John surgery. Just having a tear in this ligament for Gibson means that things could have been worse for the young right handed pitcher.

Rehab could work for him but how have the Twins faired with this in the past?

With Gibson heading to rehab, the Twins are continuing a trend with their possible Tommy John candidates. The Twins seem to attempt to rehab an elbow injury before turning to surgery. Francisco Liriano and Pat Neshek each tried to rehab their elbow injuries but both of these situations ended with the player under the knife.

Major surgery on the elbow is never something to take lightly for a pitching prospect. To many fans, the thought of Tommy John surgery seems almost commonplace in this day and age of baseball. The Twins have many in their organization that have recovered from the injury and former number one pick of the Nationals Stephen Strasburg has drawn national attention on his road to recovery.

Whether surgery is now or in a couple months, all of next season will be lost for Mr. Gibson. Joe Nathan showed the Twins that with a lot of determination a player can recover fairly quickly from this major surgery. But even with the best estimates, it would still be close to a year before Gibson could be on the mound again.

The Twins first round picks in 2009, Gibson, and 2010, Alex Wimmers, are both pitchers that have run into some issues this season. Wimmers seems to be back on the right path in recent weeks. Each of these players projected to be part of the Twins rotation at some point in the next two or three seasons. Various set-backs could now keep that from happening.

For the near future, Twins fans are left to hope that rehab is the right solution for Gibson and Slama.

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