Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the Yankees team physician, warns in a Medium post that the resumption of baseball could bring a new wave of Tommy John procedures.
Essentially, the point is that many typical concerns during a pitching ramp-up will end up being amplified when the game re-starts. Ahmad writes that “the coronavirus pandemic may greatly compound and exaggerate the risk factors associated with the spring Tommy John surgery spike.”
The warning isn’t exclusively or even primarily aimed at MLB or high-end minor-league hurlers, whose training regimens remain closely monitored by teams. Amateur players and lesser-regarded pros are perhaps at greater risk of falling into the traps that Ahmad identifies.
But the potential concerns could ensnare any pitcher. And the broader TJS epidemic, as Ahmad labels it, is of concern to the game even when it involves lower-level players.
Ahmad, who is one of the top TJ specialists in the world, delivers three primary points in the post. Pitchers should build up conditioning now, rather than waiting for what might be a rushed resumption of play. Any injury or soreness in the body should be taken seriously, due to the potential for compensation to lead to strain on the elbow. And any pain or other issues in or around the elbow ought to be treated seriously, even if it means a disappointing halt to play just after it finally re-started.
The post is worth reading for anyone involved on the pitching side of the sport at any level. It’s also a good reminder of the sort of considerations MLB teams have surely been weighing as they guide and monitor their players and think about how to get them ready for an entirely unique 2020 season.