Friday, June 17, 2016

How Often Do Pitchers Recover From Labrum Injuries?

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports
It has been called "The Career Ender," "Baseball's Toughest Injury," and "A Pitchers Death Sentence." When a major league pitcher finds out they will need labrum surgery, he knows the road to recovery will be a challenge.

Word came out of the Twin Cities on Monday that All-Star closer Glen Perkins is done for the season. In the next week, he will undergo surgery on a torn labrum and rotator cuff issues. This is a devastating blow to a back-end of the bullpen that has been a disaster at this point in the season.

The initial diagnoses was for Perkins only to miss a short amount of time. There were a few set-backs along the way before his most recent MRI showed the labrum and rotator cuff issues. Shoulder injuries can spell the end of a pitchers career as the body tries to recover so a player can throw over 90 miles per hour.

Most of Twins Territory pondered a similar question when the news broke, "How often do pitchers recover from labrum injuries?"

Many fans have become accustom to pitchers needing a surgery at some point in their career. Tommy John surgery has become common place in the baseball world because so many pitchers have the procedure. Also, the success rate is so high that it becomes an afterthought to fans. Labrum surgery is an entirely different animal.

There have been a few different studies about pitchers who were able to return from this type of surgery. Will Carroll, a baseball medical expert, wrote about labrum surgery back in the early 2000s. His results showed, "Of the 36 major-league hurlers diagnosed with labrum tears in the last five years, only midlevel reliever Rocky Biddle has returned to his previous level." One out of 36 is not very good odds

Baseball Prospectus updated Carroll's study in a 2012 article. For the piece, Jay Jaffe found 67 players that had undergone some kind of labrum surgery include names like Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Mark Mulder, and Mark Prior. There are obviously different degrees of this kind of injury but only nine of the players returned to a level of success similar to before their surgery.

Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda is one of the biggest names in recent years to have a labrum procedure. He's worked his way back to the big leagues with a 4.84 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over the last two seasons. When Pineda was diagnosed the Yankees team doctor said, "When the rotator cuff is damaged as part of the injury problem, that has a much worse prognosis and influences velocity and ability to pitch."

Unfortunately for Perkins, the rotator cuff is part of his diagnosis and it might spell bad news for his future. He's in his 30s and has a lot of miles on his arm. Doctors and the medical field are continuing to improve and a labrum surgery isn't the death sentence it once was for pitchers. This could give fans hope to see Perkins running out of the bullpen again but the odds don't seem to be in his favor.

Will Glen Perkins beat the odds and come back from this surgery? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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