WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals are stocked with incredibly talented and productive players, but their roster would look remarkably different in a world without a solution for tears to the ulnar collateral ligament in throwing arms.
This procedure, commonly known as Tommy John surgery after the first professional baseball player to successfully try it, has now been mastered to the point of being almost commonplace in baseball. Most commonly affecting pitchers, it typically occurs thanks to high-velocity and torque over a long period of time.
But that doesn’t mean other positions can’t feel the strain as well. Nats catcher Matt Wieters joins pitchers Stephen Strasburg, Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover, who have each already had successful surgeries.
This year’s draft picks Brigham Hill and Trey Turner (no, not that Trea Turner) have already had the surgery before throwing a professional pitch. It’s a safe bet, as more than 80 percent of players who receive the surgery return to pitch professionally. Some even throw the ball harder, lighting up the radar gun after having surgery.
With so much success and value in the procedure, it’s worth celebrating! At least that was the feeling of the Nationals’ farm team, the Potomac Nationals, who will be having the following giveaway next week:
The giveaway is being hailed on social media as the minor league promotion of the year, and for good reason. In a franchise where at least 36 players have gotten the same procedure since 2005, it’s reasonable to name the surgeon as team MVP.