Mets, like Many Teams, Dealing with Elbow Injuries to their Pitchers

Newsday—April 4, 2015

According to Newsday reporter Laura Albanese, for decades the fate of hundreds of pitchers has been determined by damage to a small stretch of thick, triangle-shaped connective tissue in the elbow. For example, New York Mets pitcher, Matt Harvey, underwent Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ligament in his right elbow taking him partially out of the 2013 season and all of the 2014 season. Recently, Mets teammate Zack Wheeler met the same fate.

Dr. David Altchek of Hospital for Special Surgery mentioned, "There's always a natural assumption that if you have bad mechanics, you're more prone to injury. That's probably the opposite, because good mechanics promote more force, more velocity. I'm not promoting bad mechanics, but if there's any powerful correlation with the injury, it's the power pitchers.

Dr. Altchek has performed over 1,000 Tommy John surgeries, including for Wheeler. Dr. Altchek ticked off the risk factors for a pitcher: how hard you throw, how much you throw, average velocity, the type of pitch you throw and the condition of your shoulder. Since the UCL can develop tears over time and the repetition of motion, there can be countless more factors, he said, and information is always emerging. One thing, though, is certain -- there is one part of the pitching motion that is far more traumatic than all others.

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