Mar 20, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Cory Gearrin (53) throws against the New York Mets in spring training action at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Latest Atlanta Brave Under The TJ knife: Cory Gearrin

It comes as no surprise that Cory Gearrin has now come to the conclusion he will need Tommy John surgery as well.  Cory is just the latest victim in a series of Braves’ players who have had to take a break from baseball, unwillingly, due to elbow injuries.  It’s been a veritable plague for the Atlanta Organization, with Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy just this spring, and now Gearrin.  Woops!  Did I leave anyone out?  There have been so many we now have to fact check regularly just on our lists of players who’ve gotten the bad news!

The word is that Cory sought multiple medical opinions prior to his final decision to undergo TJ surgery, including of course Dr. James Andrews.  All the doctors consulted came to the same diagnosis, that Gearrin did in fact have a tear in the ligament (specifically the UCL – Ulnar Collateral Ligament) that generally leads to TJ surgery, at least for athletes who wish to continue performing on some level.  Gearrin has said that he has not made a final decision about who will perform the surgery, but in my own opinion it’s likely to be Dr. James Andrews.

There is no single doctor more capable of a proper diagnosis, and subsequent successful surgery than Dr. Andrews, at least in my opinion.  His track record and experience are impeccable  When Brandon Beachy got injured a 2nd time, he sought out multiple opinions as well, but all that led to the same inevitable conclusion – TJ surgery! In my opinion, when you have a doctor like Andrews, multiple opinions are just a pitcher’s probable reaction to what they know in their gut is likely inevitable.  Perhaps another doctor will tell you news you want to hear?  If I sound jaded at this point, I think it’s just a natural reaction to a TON of bad news lately for the Braves and Braves’ fans!

When Gearrin was asked about why he sought other opinions, he said…

It has to be part of it – the environment you’re in impacts your decisions.  The other side is I’m just a pretty analytical guy. I really want to cover my bases. I looked into studies. I contacted as many people as I could to really get an understanding of the different procedures, techniques that guys use, and what it actually means so that I can feel as informed and as good as possible about my decision.

Like most sites that cover the sport of baseball, and particularly the Braves this season, at Tomahawk Take we’ve written extensively about this rash of TJ victims, the possible causes for so many of them, and what the Braves might be able to do to curb the problem. In the end, there may be little they can do, and there may be little they are actually willing to do!  In many cases, pitchers begin to feel soreness in the elbow long before they have to have Tommy John surgery.  That’s not always the case though.  Gearrin said that he had no elbow soreness, and no indication physically that the injury to his UCL would occur.  It was literally one pitch, the tear, and he’s done, even if he didn’t know it at the time.

Our own Fred Owens is working on a multi-part series dealing with pitching mechanics, and has already written Part 1.  It’s an interesting read, and over the years several of us have written articles about TJ.  We wish we never had to, but despite all the doctors, coaches, trends, and the problem from little leagues up through MLB of rushing pitchers, focusing on velocity and damaging curveballs at too young an age, and all the other things we look to as the culprit behind the rash of TJ’s, the truth is that sometimes it simply cannot be avoided.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m certain there are preventative measures that can be taken on every level, but is baseball willing to do what it takes to really curb these incidents, or even eliminate them?  That’s a question for another article.  For now though, Cory Gearrin is just the latest victim.  Would you place a bet on who might be next?

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