Yordano Ventura has been throwing some serious heat this season. On Memorial Day, however, he didn’t seem up to par, giving up 5 runs by the third inning. The athletic trainers and coach pulled him out of the game for elbow pain and shortly thereafter an MRI was ordered. The common concern for pitchers and throwers alike is Tommy John injury.
Fortunately Ventura only sprained the elbow and should return to the mound tonight.
But what is Tommy John injury?
Tommy John injury is a tear or rupture of the ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow. This is the ligament on the inside of the elbow, closest to the body. The ulnar collateral ligament tethers the forearm to the upper arm when a valgus force is being placed, such as throwing.
Tommy John (also called medial or ulnar collateral ligament) injuries used to be considered career ending injuries. However, Dr. Brandon Erickson explains that recent studies have shown “the returning to pitching rate in the MLB for pitchers who underwent UCL reconstruction was 83 percent; when you include the minor leagues, the returning to pitching rate was 97 percent. That means only 2.8 percent of pitchers who underwent Tommy John surgery were unable to return to pitching in either the major or minor league.” Improvements in the surgery and the rehabilitation have allowed players to realize that they might be able to return to the sport.
As stated above, Ventura does not have this type of injury. He was officially diagnosed with a mild valgus extension overload and is expected to be back tonight. Let’s go Kansas City Royals!