Doc To Have Surgery, Optimistic Will Pitch Again In 2013
Here is what he said.
How’s it going?
What’s the news?
I’m going to have a scope. We went in and did the MRI. They found a bone spur, some changes in the rotator cuff, more so than last year. There’s a little bit of fraying of the labrum, but not anything significantly different than last year. So what they’re going to do is go in and clean up the bone spur, clean up the rotator cuff and the labrum. Try and keep it as unevasive as possible. And from what I understand, if they go in and see during surgery what they saw on the exams I have a chance to come back and pitch this year. I have a good chance to come back and pitch this year and hopefully be a lot more effective. They said that my range of motion will be better, my location will be better and hopefully the velocity will be better. But they said the bone spur, the rotator cuff kept rubbing over it. And over time it gradually created more and more of a tear. They want to get that cleaned up and get that out of there. We haven’t decided where we’re going to do it. We’ve haven’t got a time of when we’re going to do it. We’re going to take some time to figure that out, but that’s pretty much the diagnosis. The doctor seemed pretty optimistic that if what they saw is correct, I could come back and be a lot more effective and have a chance to pitch this year and turn back the clock. He said he thought they could turn back the clock two or three years for me. I thought it was very good news. Obviously I don’t want to miss time, but I think as far as scenarios go I feel like it’s a lot better than some of the things I anticipated.
If it goes according to plan, when could you be back?
I don’t know. He said in certain cases it’s been three months, but we really don’t have a timetable. I think the timetable is going to come once they go in and confirm that, hey, what we saw in the x-rays is exactly what we saw when we went in there. And then I think that will give us a better idea of the timetable. But they were definitely optimistic that I would be back this year. But of course we’re going to be as smart as we can and do the best we can throughout the whole process. But I really think the timetable is going to be based on when they go in. Does it look how they think it does?
Did the spur show up last summer on the diagnostics?
You know, I’m not sure. The fraying of the labrum was the same. The rotator cuff was more now than it was last year.
Yeah, it was a little more separated than it was last year. I really don’t recall the bone spur. I’m sure it was there. But I don’t know if they felt at the time it was a factor of that rubbing across that. My conversations with the doctor, I said, I really haven’t felt a great deal of pain throughout the whole process. He said the reason is because everything around it is so strong that you aren’t going to feel that. He said the biggest thing you’re going to notice is lack of location first and foremost and then velocity and if it gets to a certain point you may start feeling a little bit of pain. The pain really isn’t excruciating. Like I said, I really didn’t feel pain the whole time. I think maybe it just got to the point where it frayed enough to where I started to feel it.
What is the terminology they’re using on the state of your cuff: partial tear, fraying, damaged?
On the rotator cuff, I think partial tear would be the terminology. The labrum is fraying and he said it’s not completely uncommon for any pitcher. But he really felt like if they got a lot of that stuff cleaned up, especially the bone spur, it would increase my range of motion and it would allow my arm slot to be more consistent. And it would allow me to get deeper in a cocking position going forward. He said when you have that in there, whether you know it or not, your arm is kind of going to avoid that spot. I think getting that out of there, getting those thing cleaned up… but he said at your age, the less evasive, the better. He said we felt like he can turn back the clock for me.
Will that doctor do the surgery?
We haven’t decided that yet. I liked him, I thought he was spot on. I had saw him before I did the MRIs. HE pretty much told me before I even went in the MRI what he thought. And when the MRI came back it was almost spot on with what he said. I really liked him and I was very confident with him. But that’s a decision we’re still in the process of making.
Did you go into the visit thinking your career could be over?
Um, I didn’t know. I was going in open-minded. I knew that… my biggest concern was I couldn’t throw the ball where I wanted. I wasn’t concerned about velocity, the pain wasn’t overwhelming. I couldn’t understand why my location was so poor. So I really didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know if they had to tighten something up, I really didn’t know. But I went in open-minded. And I kind of felt like it was good news, that I have a good chance to come back and pitch, and help us try to get to the World Series. That’s the ultimate goal. That’s why I’m playing.
You’re a free agent after the season. Would you consider coming back here on cut-rate deal?
You know I don’t know. I really want to get through this, come back and see how strong I can be and see how effective I can be, and se if I can help us. Like I told Ruben and Scott and Charlie, I’m not going to make any decisions right now about down the road. I’m going to focus on the here and now and this process. I’ve always told you guys I love Philadelphia, love playing here, it’s a great place to be. But there’s a lot to be determined. I want to be effective and I want to be a part of the team. I don’t want to be a hindrance.
Rick Sutcliffe said you told him you’d retire if you couldn’t pitch like you want. Did you speak to him about retirement?
I think that was taken a little bit far. We had talked and our conversation was ‘Hey, you know what? If we can’t get this thing fixed and I go out there and pitch the way I did the other day, I’m not doing anybody any good. In that case, I have some decisions to make.’ But fortunately, at this point, I have some other options. I’m optimistic that this will make things better and I can come back and be effective and pitch. So, you know, my conversation about that was the fact that hey, if there’s nothing that can be done, and I continue to pitch the way I am, I’m not helping anybody and nobody wants to pitch like that.
Will you attempt to have the procedure as soon as possible?
Yeah. As soon as possible is…I mean, I’m not gonna wait a month. We’re gonna do as much homework as we can as quickly as possible and try and get things going. If I had to guess, I’d say maybe sometime next week. that’s a guess. There’s a lot of talking I have to do with Scott, some of the doctors and try and find the right fit. But obviously the sooner you get going the better.
Is there a chance it’s worse than it appears now?
You know, I guess there could be. But I thought it was very clear on the x-ray. He didn’t indicate to me that..at no point in our conversation did he say “but, it could be a lot worse.’ He didn’t say that. You can’t ever rule that out, but it was never in our conversation. He never said that, he felt like it was something that we could take care of.
Any indication of how long you might’ve been pitching with this injury?
Years. (laughs) I don’t know. He said that, from last year to this year, there was more damage to the rotator cuff than anything. That was from rubbing over that spur. But due to all the rehab that we did, he was surprised how strong everything was. I think he felt that’s why we really didn’t notice the changes because we did so much during the winter and everything else around was so strong that it almost hid it a little bit. Had it been weaker, it might have showed up a lot earlier.
If you maybe don’t do all that, you know about this earlier?
Yeah. But if I don’t do the rehab, I don’t pitch. You have to do it. I think we did all the right things. There’s just no crystal ball. Now I feel like I have something to grasp onto. Something to move forward with. I don’t feel as lost as before. I feel like there’s some answers there, some things that we see that can be done and I’m optimistic that we’ll get it fixed and I’ll be able to come back and pitch.
Mariano Rivera said he didn’t want to end his career injured or ineffective. Do you feel the same way?
Of course. If you have your choice – yeah. Nobody wants to go out on a bad note. If you had a choice, you want to go out strong. Ideally you want to go out as a World Champion. But some of those things aren’t in your control. I have no regrets at any point in my career and if those don’t work out and they do end on a sour note I’m not going to look at it that way. But I really don’t feel that’s going to be the case. I really feel I have a shot to come back and help our team.
If you can’t pitch enough rehab innings to come back as a starter would you pitch out of the bullpen?
I don’t know. I don’t know what – those are answers for Ruben and Charlie. I don’t make those decisions. From what I understand I would like to come back and start. But if that became an option, who knows, I wouldn’t rule anything out.
Wish you had spoken up and been shut down earlier?
No because I really didn’t feel like it was anything different. One of my strongest workout sessions was before my last start. My arm work session before my last start was probably the strongest Ive had all year. So the strength was there. The soreness wasn’t excruciating . I wouldn’t do anything different. I felt I could compete. The pain was not a disabling.
So you had the same mindset as Game 5 of the 2010 NLCS?
The groin here was much worse.
Scale of 1-10, how bad was the pain?
Painwise, maybe a three or a four. I’ve pitched with a lot worse and had a lot better results. The thing that concerned me the most was the location.