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Friday September 10, 2010 6:48 pm

Tommy John Surgery not yet perfect

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Injuries, MLB,

Jose RijoTommy John Surgery has been in the spotlight a lot in recent years. Now that Stephen Strasburg has fallen victim and has begun the year-long recovery process, fans want to know more about what causes the surgery and why it’s so successful. First of all, it’s not. Not everybody recovers from TJS. Secondly, the ligaments that tear do so as a result of a 90 MPH or faster fastball. That’s all it takes, so it’s almost amazing that even more pitchers don’t need to have TJS more often.

One of the more famous names involved with TJS is Jose Rijo. Rijo underwent the surgery three times in his career, and he was a pitcher from 1984 until 2002, although he did not play from 1996 through 2000. By the time he had his third TJS, there was virtually no ligament for Dr. James Andrews to use to repair Rijo’s throwing arm. Rijo is certainly an anomaly when it comes to guys who have had TJS.

Rijo’s career went a little better than somebody like Chad Fox, who scattered 228 innings over a 10-year career. Fox pitched for five teams and won a World Series title with the Marlins in 2003, but will always be best known; if known at all, for his pair of Tommy Johns. His career appears to have ended with yet another injury while pitching for the Cubs last May. Fox hasn’t been heard from in professional baseball since.

Despite the drastic improvements in TJS, still not enough is known about the procedure; or more importantly, what leads to needing the procedure. Parents are having their children unnecessarily undergo TJS because they think it will strengthen the kid’s arm, and while that may be the case, that’s an incredible risk to take. TJS isn’t perfect. Just ask Rijo and Fox and the dozens of other guys who have had it, many of whom will never throw a baseball again.



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