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Some Perspective on Tommy John Surgery

Although a few years older, Sean Burnett has a lot in common with Nats rookie Jordan Zimmermann. Burnett was a first-round pick (2000), Zimmermann a second-rounder (2007). Burnett cracked the big leagues at 21; Zimmermann did so at 22. When Burnett arrived in the majors with the Pirates, it was 2004. He was the team's No. 2 prospect, per Baseball America. In his first eight starts, he went 5-2 with a 2.84 ERA. His final games reflect a dramatic drop-off -- he went 0-3 with a 10.29 ERA -- but as you'll read below, Burnett never felt all right, even when he looked all right. On Aug. 21, 2004, he started against St. Louis, lasting four innings and giving up eight runs.

He wouldn't pitch again -- because of Tommy John surgery and a subsequent (but unrelated) shoulder injury in 2005 -- until May 6, 2008.

I talked to Burnett about his experiences with the elbow injury.

Q: When did you know something was wrong with your elbow?

Oh, well over two years before I made it [to the big leagues]. It really flared up at the end of the Class AA season [in 2003], and that's probably when I actually tore it and ended up pitching the rest of the season with that tear. Then I got to the big leagues the year after and it was shot.

Q: You were pitching in the big leagues and your arm was totally dead?

Yeah. I can actually go back to a particular night where it actually locked up on me. It locked up in the middle of the night, and talking to the medical people, that was probably when it first blew out. After that happened I went to a doctor, but they didn't see too much and I went out to throw and it felt fine again. But it was never the same.

Q: So this was something in Class AA?

Yeah, 2003.

Q: So how difficult was it to be pitching in 2004? Was it, like, constant pain?

Oh, it was constant. It first started getting bad in high Class A, and Class AA was just the icebreaker. All of '04, I was pitching purely on luck. I didn't have anything. I was fortunate enough to get to the big leagues and somehow survive. I guess Kip Wells getting hurt gave me a chance to get up here. But finally I couldn't do it anymore. I started off so well, but deep inside I knew it was all luck. It was just a matter of time before I couldn't do it anymore.

Q: That must have been just excruciating.

Oh, I was a ticking timebomb. I wasn't throwing bullpens or anything between starts. Like, I couldn't even pick up a baseball two or three days after starts. It got to the point where, mentally, it was just wearing me out. My last start in '04 when I just walked off the mound, I knew I didn't have it. It got to the point, after three or four really bad games, where I was really embarrassing myself and wasn't able to help the team win. So why put myself out there?

Q: So did you know at that point you were bound for something serious like Tommy John?

Oh I knew as soon as I left the mound that I needed surgery. I had never left the mound like that before in my career, so as bad as the pain was, to keep fighting it, I knew it was all I had. Some guys throw one pitch and that's it, but for me it was just a deteriorating thing that got worse and worse. Some guys, they throw one pitch and they know the exact pitch where it happened. Me, I knew just from having so many elbow problems and six or seven MRIs. The first few didn't show anything, and in 2003 I probably had three MRIs. In 2004, probably three more, and supposedly there was nothing wrong. Then I get down to Dr. [James] Andrews and he tells me that supposedly there isn't even a ligament there anymore.

Q: The MRI when Andrews finally noticed --

No, he didn't even do an MRI. He just looks at you with his hands and can feel and touch. It was a little test, and he knew.

Q: Was it almost a relief to hear somebody tell you that, yeah, there is something physically wrong?

Yeah. Because for so long it hurt, and you're wondering. If it's muscle, it can't hurt that long, as long as it did. I could see my stuff just getting bad. The ball wasn't sinking. I had no command. Velocity was always there, and that was the thing that kind of let them always have me going out there, but I knew within myself that it was just a matter of time.

Q: Did you get any pressure from the Pittsburgh organization to pitch through it?

It was me. No, it was me. I'm 21 years old in the big leagues living the dream, and the last thing I want to do is admit that I'm hurting and can't pitch. It was more me, and they did their best to keep me out there. They probably knew in their heads, 'If he wants to go we'll let him go, but if he says stop it's probably best to let him.' That's what happened.

Q: What do you remember about actually undergoing the surgery itself? What happens?

It was a huge relief for me, because it was so long that I had the pain. I wanted to get it fixed. Yeah, I'm not going to play baseball for six, seven, eight months, but I'll be healthy and I'll feel good again. And going to see Dr. Andrews, he was so damn confident -- not cocky, but he knew what he was doing, and he made you believe that you are going to come back just as strong if not stronger. So it was kind of very easy on my mind.

Q: What about him made you feel so confident?

Just, you know, he's done so many of them, and anybody with a problem goes and sees him. You kind of have that, 'I'm going to see the best.' It's a lot easier to deal with. And first of all, the success rate with that surgery is damn near 100-percent these days, and knowing that you're going to see the best and you'll be taken care of -- it's good.

Q: So first time you throw a baseball after that --

Four months to the day. Probably one of the greatest days of my life. It was unreal how good it felt, and I thought it was the greatest surgery in the world.

Q: Were you down in Bradenton?

No, I stayed and rehabbed the whole offseason in Pittsburgh, and yeah, I was in the tunnel in the batting cage inside. It was cold outside, so I was in a batting cage, played catch for five or 10 minutes, just a short distance, but it was the greatest relief just to throw a ball again without pain. It was so painful for so long, that just to be able to play catch without pain was something I wasn't used to.

Q: Now coming back, actually getting back to the big leagues, that took a long time.

But only because I also had to get shoulder surgery.

Q: So if it had just been the Tommy John, no other injuries, you think you would have been back to full strength way, way sooner?

Well before. Not sure exactly. With no setbacks, and I didn't have any setbacks on the elbow, probably eight to 12 months you can be fully back on the mound. Just depending on the organization. Lately they've gotten pretty aggressive with the rehab, so you see some guys come back even sooner than a full year.

Q: When you first made it back to the big leagues in 2008, I know we've talked before that your stuff wasn't as good. Was that more shoulder-related?

It was shoulder. Tommy John, that's easy. There aren't too many things that make up the elbow, so once they repair the ligament that's easy. The shoulder is so complex, you have to pretty much learn how to throw again -- especially when you have a labrum (injury) or something. The shoulder is what really set me back, and I had a lot of problems with that.

Q: So it sounds like the Tommy John experience alone, I don't want to make it sound like it was easy, but --

Oh, it was easy. It was easy. If you talk to doctors and just do your rehab, most likely you'll be back, no problems, no setbacks. You hear 'Tommy John,' unfortunately you don't get to play for a year, but you will come back just as strong most likely. In most cases. Now when you talk shoulder you're in trouble.

Q: You talk to Zimmermann at all?

I talked to him a little bit, just yesterday. He was a little devastated. I remember being there, too. There you are, and the thing for me, growing up playing baseball, I had never gone that long without playing; that was the hardest part. And he's the same way, too. So that's the first thing to get over: The fact that you're not gonna play for a while. And that's the frustrating part. And it's scary. No matter what the surgery is, you're scared for your career. So I just told him to relax, and honestly, it'll be a lot easier than you think.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 12, 2009; 10:19 AM ET
 
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Next: Lineups From Turner Field

Comments

Wow, creepy timing...
---
Posting with expectation of getting next-posted:

Anyone else see ESPN's "reported news" last night that Rizzo is "not expected to become Nats GM" -- what kind of "report" is that?

My first instinct is that the Boras-paid/aligned "insider source" at ESPN "leaked" another negotiating chip into the media to paint the Nats as so unstable, they would HAVE to pay more for SS. What a freakin' joke for "news reporting."

Anyone else have a similar (or different) take?

Posted by: mo_dc | August 12, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: mo_dc | August 12, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

It's good Zmann has someone like Burnett to relate to - I hope he takes advantage of it! We need him back. I wish him well in his surgery, his rehab, and his return!

Posted by: 1of9000 | August 12, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"Anyone else have a similar (or different) take?"

I hate to state the obvious, but it is almost certainly Belliard's doing...

Posted by: twinbrook | August 12, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Oh hey, my favorite post-Nats game place (Duffys) has a promotion going on today only. It's called Groupon, and allows you to buy a $35 food/drink coupon for only $15 but you have to buy it today.

I don't work there and am not affiliated -- just my neighborhood pub. It's just off the Green Line from the ballpark.

I've seen sec3mysofa, jd, and others talking about it -- home of the bourbon & maalox (it was stale for 9 days there!) -- so thought i'd throw it out there for the crowd.

Anyway, if you're interested, check it out:
http://www.groupon.com/deals/duffys-irish-restaurant-pub

Posted by: mo_dc | August 12, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

What's the history of pitchers coming back from Tommy John?

Posted by: Section506 | August 12, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Chico - this is awesome. And, knock on wood, somewhat encouraging (in a 2011 kinda way).

Posted by: Section220 | August 12, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Chico - this interview is great stuff. It not only gives us an insider's take on Tommy John surgery and the impact it has not only on the pitcher's body, but as (more) importantly, his psyche.

I love that it tells me a lot about Burnett -- a former first rounder on the express train to the Show. Humbling journey back, and we're happy to have him now. Nice one, Rizzo!

Posted by: mo_dc | August 12, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully the inclement weather will hold off today i'll be leaving about fiveish to head down to the "TED" got my Sunday 05 shirt and DC CAP to wear proudly flying solo tonite so have no fear, I WILL REPRESENT!!!!! GO NATS

Posted by: dargregmag | August 12, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

dargregmag,

have you got a baby Nats jersey yet for the grandkid? oh, belated congrats!

And it sounds like a hot one in Atlanta. Drink lots of liquids ;-)

Hopefully Stammen lasts more than '05 innings for a change!

Posted by: mo_dc | August 12, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Chico, thanks so much for talking with Sean and sharing it. And thank you Sean. I think everyone was feeling terrible for Jordan, and of course still do, but this perspective really helps. Given what one hears about the high success rate with Tommy John, I suspected Dibble was excessive last night with the gloom and doom. I mean, maybe he had a really bad experience, but that doesn't mean Jordan will. Sean gives the other side & also gives what I thought was a gripping picture of what pitchers with these problems go through.

Posted by: Section109 | August 12, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

109, I agree, and wonder if Dibble isn't taking this a little personally. I mean, there's a reason they call it "Tommy John surgery."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 12, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Dibble he didn't show up for his guest appearance on Mike Wise's show at 11. Said "it wasn't a good time". He is usually more candid on the radio so I was looking forward to it.

Posted by: MKadyman | August 12, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

They don't call it Tommy John surgery because it ended his career. As I understand it, the tendon gets torn from use, they replace it with a new one, and the person is usually good as new.

Posted by: markfromark | August 12, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Boy howdy, Dr. Dribble really showed his arse last night. Cripes, I hope none of JZ's family was watching. He acted as if his only hope of pitching was as a mop up reliever.

Posted by: pwilly | August 12, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Terrific quote by Tommy John upon his retirement (courtesy of the always reliable Wikipedia):

After Phil Niekro's retirement, John spent 1988 and 1989 as the oldest player in the major leagues.... He decided it was time to retire in 1989, when Mark McGwire got two hits off him. McGwire's father was John's dentist. John said of his decision, "When your dentist's kid starts hitting you, it's time to retire!"

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | August 12, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

You guys are just finally starting to figure out that Dibble's a blowhard who talks out his backside?

He's got his limited set of experience is a major league reliever and frames everything through that lens. Then he combines that with a 14-year old boy's attention span and attempts to explain things based on the results, not on the decisions that went into those things.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | August 12, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I'll echo the thanks of others to Chico for the interview and post and to Sean for sharing his experiences here and, perhaps more importantly, with Jordan.

Dr. Dibble's comments on the prognosis were definitely gloomy last night. Later in the broadcast he apologized and said that the news threw him for a loop or something to that effect. Wasn't sure to which portion of his remarks, if any, the apology related (or perhaps to his being somewhat preoccupied with it?).

506, there were some general TJ article links posted in the comments section yesterday, but I can't recall which thread.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 12, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Here are a couple of general pieced, 506:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Tommy_John_surgery

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=3486

BTW, I'm still a Dibble fan overall, though I piled on about his TJ comments.


Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 12, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Better yet, "pieces."

---

pieced

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 12, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Also re Dibble:

I could be wrong on this (I'm basing it off of nothing but "barstool" conversations) but I'm under the impression that they have really improved the techique for Tommy John surgery since Dibble played. I think it used to be a last resort because it used to be much more risky, and pretty much a crap shoot if you recover fully or not. Now, it's much safer than it might have been in Dibble's day. So while his doom-and-gloom perspective comes from his playing experience, I don't think that is the reaction anymore. I Hope somebody has a source or link or real knowledge to either confirm or correct my baseless perception about the surgery and its history!

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | August 12, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess Natsfan1a1 beat me to it- thank you!

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | August 12, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, cheeseburger.

Also, just noticed the new handle that was bestowed by sec3 yesterday. Nice. We'll watch for you on the telly tonight, dargregmag.

---

Hey dargrampsmag let us know if any braves bloggers get out of hand and we'll correct their misapprehensions

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 9:38 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 12, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I can't hammer Dibble too much, yesterday it just seemed like a bad day for him. The umps sucked, Z-mann news, absence of Bob, etc. Overall, he is entertaining.

Posted by: hleeo3 | August 12, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Is anybody else creeped out that the last name on the Tommy John list from the baseball-reference page that Natsfan1a1 linked to is "Jeff Zimmerman"? I checked- it's a different person than Jordan Zimmermann (as opposed to a potential typo when entering Jordan's name). Creepy!

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | August 12, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag, congrats btw. We need all the new Nats fans we can get ;)

Posted by: hleeo3 | August 12, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Mo Dc & hleeo3: No, have not gotten young Micah a Nats shirt yet but his big brother Miles(5yrs old) has a hat and a Nats shirt, gonna go online tommorow and get him setup, thanks everyone for your kind words like i said earlier the rain is slated for the afternoon and we've already had a brief shower but we should be good to go for tonite,yes hopefully Stamen can give us seven good one's and we can get a split and then it's on to Cincy for a sweep!!

Posted by: dargregmag | August 12, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The second thing I liked about Dibble was that he makes Carpenter better, more interesting. Now I think he's forcing "Disco Johnny" to raise his game, to good effect. I'm waiting to hear what nickname Tony Plush has for Dibble. Holliday was holding it over his head all night last night: "I know what it is. I'll tell you--tomorrow." Dibble: "I have a nickname: Nasty Boy. Once and forever." Holliday: "No, not anymore. I'll tell you tomorrow."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 12, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Back to the surgery (from http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=3486):

"That Tommy John surgery seems all too common is perhaps the best measure of its success. While there is still a failure rate of 10 to 15 percent, most of these happen on younger subjects. It would be more accurate to say that the pitcher fails himself in most cases, rather than the surgery being the problem. Some think the procedure is becoming too common, with younger and younger patients. Others want to have their "prospect" son given the procedure when young so as to avoid it later."

From this article, I wonder if anybody is going to start trying "pre-emptive Tommy John" to strengthen and reenforce the natural, original ligament before it gets damaged. I'm no doctor, but this article makes it sound as if this hypothetical "preventive" procedure could be possible for people putting a lot of stress on the original ligament. Like say a pitcher.

...Especially a pitcher who throws both over 100MPH and a (reportedly) disgusting breaking ball... Possibly one negotiating with the Nationals... and he may or may not have the initials SS...

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | August 12, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Sorry- I got side tracked from my original thought when I talked about hypothetical surgeries to create cyborg pitchers with super-human ligiments.

I meant to say this sounds very promising for Jordan Zimmermann. I hope he rehabs intelligently and intensly. I would be fine not to see him pitch until 2011 if it assures he comes back in top form. Or better than top form with a cyborg arm...

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | August 12, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow, lots of news I missed while in no-broadband no-cellphone-bars territory for almost a week. All I could get was TV (ESPN, etc.) and dial-up internet. Couldn't even listen to MLB.Audio on my cell, not enough bandwidth, had to bribe my nephew to check on the scores... TV comes from satellite dishes which work pretty good (as the satellites DO go over southern Illinois).

Can we get RURAL FREE BROADBAND right now???? (Some history-- rural areas got to have electrification and mail delivery way later than the rest of the country).

So sorry that the Nats' streak got broken (did I do that?) and JZ'nn is going to have Tommy John. Did they release Scott Olsen?

Put me down as a Rizzo fan, I really hope he gets it. Gonna go catch up on all the blogs and posts.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | August 12, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Interesting...though this part of the article is kinda scary: "He just looks at you with his hands and can feel and touch. It was a little test, and he knew." Seriously, MLB ballplayers and their teams consent to surgery after someone just "looks at you with his hands"?

Posted by: mvm2 | August 12, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I know someone who had this surgery preemptively at 19. He was throwing 88-90 MPH, and the rumor was that he thought that by shortening the ligament he would add a few MPHs to his fastball. I don't know the complete validity of it, but if true I thought it was sick.

I do know it hasn't worked out well for him.

#4

Posted by: db423 | August 12, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

regarding the GM job:

Maybe they are waiting until after the SS signing period because those other 2 candidates told them, "I'll consider your offer if you sign SS."

Posted by: rb-freedom-for-all | August 12, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the links.

On Dibble: just because he's a moron doesn't mean he is also an un-entertaining moron.

Posted by: Section506 | August 12, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

With Tommy John surgery, they take a ligament out of your leg and use it to replace the ligament in your arm. My question is, "Don't you have to rehab your leg too?". What does it do to your leg to lose a ligament there?

Posted by: rb-freedom-for-all | August 12, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Chico, you might consider getting another perspective? I think it may have taken JD Martin longer to get past his Tommy John's. And I guess he lost velocity? He's one of the Walter Mitty, or potential Walter Mitty stories of this team, along with Nyjer? Plus there's Matt Chico? Martin is a year younger than Burnett, Chico is a year younger than Martin ... might be interesting?

Posted by: periculum | August 12, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

From the Syracuse Post Standard's article on Ross Detwiler:

"Since joining the Chiefs, Detwiler is 0-2 in five starts, with a 4.64 ERA, 30 hits allowed, 22 strikeouts and 11 walks in 21 1/3 innings. During his time with Syracuse, Detwiler is getting a feel for his new margin of error. "You can't just say 'This is the minor leagues.' You have to figure these are the best minor leaguers, who are one step away (from the majors). This is going to be the future here," Detwiler said of his approach."

Posted by: periculum | August 12, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Boswell's article on evaluating the Nats: Boz both you and management are going to have to wait and see what the young pitchers and the new "Belliard's row" will do?

Posted by: periculum | August 12, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Y'know, the NY Times magazine this past Sunday had an article on surgery done on teenage pitchers. I haven't read it yet but here's the URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/magazine/09littleleague-t.html?_r=1&scp=5&sq=elbow%20surgery&st=cse

Posted by: Section109 | August 12, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

If that's Nyjer Morgan's nickname for Zimmermann, his creativity has really fallen off.

-----

Is anybody else creeped out that the last name on the Tommy John list from the baseball-reference page that Natsfan1a1 linked to is "Jeff Zimmerman"? I checked- it's a different person than Jordan Zimmermann (as opposed to a potential typo when entering Jordan's name). Creepy!

Posted by: JohninMpls | August 12, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

My wife had ACL replacement surgery a while back. They took the inner third of her patellar tendon to create the new ACL. The surgery didn't affect that tendon's performance at all.

The surgeon also mentioned that athletes who get ACL replacement surgery opt for the cadaverous ligament option because the recovery time is shorter. However, she pointed out that cadaverous ligaments don't hold up over time as well as the patellar version.

Not sure if that's relevant.

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With Tommy John surgery, they take a ligament out of your leg and use it to replace the ligament in your arm. My question is, "Don't you have to rehab your leg too?". What does it do to your leg to lose a ligament there?

Posted by: JohninMpls | August 12, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I just finished reading the NYT article. My only suggestion is that they should take the $50 million and train people how to teach proper pitching mechanics. That would do a lot more for arm injuries than coming with studies about pitch counts. We are the only industrialized country in the world that allows its youth to be coached by unlicensed coaches.

#4

Posted by: db423 | August 12, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I just saw a story about the Tampa Bay Rays losing two pitchers to waivers. The Nats were not the claimants in either case. It says a lot when other teams are willing to fish the waiver wire, but we are not. Is the front office really that confident that the pitchers we already have are the future of the franchise?

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | August 12, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Nats_Lady. As you will see after catching up with posts and comments, it's not you, it's Belliard.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 12, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"but we are not. Is the front office really that confident that the pitchers we already have are the future of the franchise?"

In Syracuse: 3 of 5 starters are "prospects". Pretty sure everyone in Harrisburg is. Short 1, all the relief in Syracuse are now prospects most
all promoted from AA. Storen and Everts both 1st round picks, both closers in Syracuse and Harrisburg.

There doesn't seem to be any room at the inn except perhaps in GCL? Now that Rizzo traded for southpaw prospect Aaron Thompson?

Posted by: periculum | August 12, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

After reading a bit more, they haven't released Olsen, Nats_Lady.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 12, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Section109: Thanks for the great NY Times article! Lots of good info on Dr. Andrews and the history of teen surgery.

Posted by: NickfromGermantown | August 12, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Non-Nats Note:
Our Virginia state champion Chantilly American Little League takes on Alabama at 5:00 p.m. today in the first semifinal of the Southeast Regional tournament. The winner will face the winner of Georgia/Tennessee Friday night on ESPN.
Today's game can be viewed at
http://www.mitchstadium.com/

Posted by: chime1211 | August 12, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Amazing article, section109. I coach little kids and this is a constant battle. The key is to make sure that your team doesn't rely on only one or two pitchers. It is hard to tell a ten-year-old he can't pitch when you both know he is the only one who can keep your team in the game. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

Posted by: twinbrook | August 12, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

@ +1/2St.

"fishing the waiver wire" is simply exploring trades.

teams put a player onto the waiver list, to see if another team would be interested in negotiating a trade. if the original team doesn't like what they hear they can always pull him back.

rays picked up russ springer from the A's, who is fine but 40 yrs old w/ a 4.10 era. (no player traded, but they assumed his $3.3 million contract) and gregg zaun, vet catcher from baltimore (for a player to be named later).

if nats won't acquire players in the case of assuming the contract, but not needing to trade a player, so its simply a $ issue thats one thing.

but if the team wants you to trade them your pitching prospects (our only prospects?), then that may be eating your seed corn, in exchange for what?

rays are in a playoff hunt, so acquiring some useful (aged) pieces for this year, and taking a hit in future years ($ and players) may be worth it. nats season was done months ago (in terms of contention) so make moves that build for the future.

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | August 12, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Best of luck to the team, chime1211!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 12, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Not sure how relevant the ACL comparison is. From someone who had ACL surgery and who also had the patella used as his new ACL, it's hard to say if you would also have to rehab the leg as well as your arm in Tommy John. When you have ACL surgery and they use your patella, the site they are taking the patella from, your knee, needs to be rehabbed regardless. Hard to say from my experience if someone having Tommy John would have to also rehab the knee joint in addition to their arm.

------------------------------------

My wife had ACL replacement surgery a while back. They took the inner third of her patellar tendon to create the new ACL. The surgery didn't affect that tendon's performance at all.

The surgeon also mentioned that athletes who get ACL replacement surgery opt for the cadaverous ligament option because the recovery time is shorter. However, she pointed out that cadaverous ligaments don't hold up over time as well as the patellar version.

Not sure if that's relevant.

-----

With Tommy John surgery, they take a ligament out of your leg and use it to replace the ligament in your arm. My question is, "Don't you have to rehab your leg too?". What does it do to your leg to lose a ligament there?

Posted by: jkraeg | August 12, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"We are the only industrialized country in the world that allows its youth to be coached by unlicensed coaches."
++++++++++++
Really?

No, I mean: really?

Posted by: Scooter_ | August 12, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Doubt Zimmermann will ever achieve his potential now. Once an athlete has a major injury, they tend to get injured pretty often after initial recovery.

Nats need to sign SS because, at this point, we are running our prospects into the ground on the ML level.

Posted by: BT23 | August 12, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

MLB Network gave some time to Dr. Mike Marshall not too long ago. I thought it was pretty insightful:

http://www.drmikemarshall.com/

Posted by: dand187 | August 12, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

mvm2: "Interesting...though this part of the article is kinda scary: 'He just looks at you with his hands and can feel and touch. It was a little test, and he knew.' Seriously, MLB ballplayers and their teams consent to surgery after someone just 'looks at you with his hands'?"
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Okay, obviously Burnett meant that the doctor examines you with his hands. And I don't doubt he was able to do this. I tore my medial collateral ligament (knee) some years back while skiing near Lake Tahoe. Went to a clinic that evening when my knee stiffened up. Doc poked my knee for a couple of seconds, had me flex it once or twice, said he heard the "click" characteristic of a torn MCL and with no further tests put me in a brace. Knee healed up just fine in a few months, but there's no question in my mind that a specialist can detect ligament injury without an x-ray. Especially if he sees a couple of torn MCLs every day during the skiing season.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 12, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

New post, with lineups.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 12, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

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