WASHINGTON — Joe Ross is done for the season, and probably for a solid portion of 2018, after a successful Tommy John’s surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm.
For what it’s worth, the Nationals are optimistic that Ross could come back even better than he left.
“Most of the guys I know come back better and throwing harder than when they left because they get rid of everything while they’re in there,” Nats manager Dusty Baker told the media. “Anyone who has done any kind of pitching for any amount of time, they usually have something in there.
“I’m just hoping that Joe comes back stronger and better than ever.”
Baker further elaborated that the surgery went “well,” and that Ross’ return was in the standard range of 12-18 months.
Ross 2017 season ends with a disappointing final 5.01 ERA, although with tremendous run support, he did salvage a 5-3 record in 13 starts. Twice this season, he was optioned to AAA. It is unclear if his uneven performance was because of the injury, or if that was simply the final straw.
Baker has had an open line of communication with his starter, however, and believes that Ross has the mindset to bounce back in more ways than one next season.
“I think he’s handled it well,” Baker said. “You don’t know what’s going on internally because he doesn’t say a whole bunch. He’s not very expressive, unless he’s happy.
“That first operation is always the toughest because you’re wondering how it’s going to turn out, or if it’s going to affect his career or anything. But I think he’s handled it well.”
Baker has had a well-documented history with UCL injuries in players that he coached, most notably with Cubs Mark Prior and Kerry Wood and Reds ace Edinson Volquez. Ross, who throws a low-90’s fastball when healthy, threw more than 110 pitches only once this season and had a very average workload otherwise.
Here are Baker’s thoughts on the surgery from May, 2016: