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Stephen Strasburg: What is Tommy John surgery?

Updated 1:03 p.m.

It's technically known as ligament replacement surgery, but most people call the procedure that Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg will undergo Tommy John surgery.


The technique for repairing a damaged ulnar collateral ligament was pioneered by orthopedic surgeon Frank Jobe over 30 years ago and because of it, a pitcher's career need no longer end when the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow tears. Named for John, the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who underwent the procedure in 1974 and successfully returned to the majors two years later, the surgery involves replacing the damaged UCL ligament with one from the forearm or from a donor.

"First, I just want to say that Stephen doesn't want any funeral type of thing," Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said in an interview on ESPN980. "Tommy John surgery isn't open heart surgery. We're going to see him a year from today. He's gonna be bigger and better than ever. He's focused on the surgery and the rehabitation and getting back here. ... There's no wake here."

Plenty of pitchers, including Mariano Rivera, Eric Gagne and David Wells, have had phenomenal postsurgical success; the news isn't the end of the road for Strasburg by any means.

Rizzo added that he believes Strasburg suffered the injury on one pitch.

"The wear and tear portion, we don't think was a factor," he said. "We think it was a one-pitch episdoe."

More on the procedure:

Baseball Prospectus: Thirty years of Tommy John surgery.

Huffington Post: The Tommy John epidemic.

By Cindy Boren  |  August 27, 2010; 11:35 AM ET
Categories:  Nationals , Stephen Strasburg  
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Next: Stephen Strasburg: Mike Rizzo talks of 'one-pitch' injury


Didn't know the Huffington Post had taken over the Wall Street Journal.... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John1 | August 27, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

You might want to check whether Rivera had the surgery. Wikipedia says no.

Posted by: jimbo2541 | August 27, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

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