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Word came out of the Twin Cities on Thursdayday that All-Star closer Glen Perkins is done for the season. In the next week, he will undergo surgery on a torn labrum and rotator cuff issues. This is a devastating blow to a back-end of the bullpen that has been a disaster to this point in the season.">

How Often Do Pitchers Recover From Labrum Injuries?

It has been called "The Career Ender," "Baseball's Toughest Injury," and "A Pitcher's Death Sentence." When a major league pitcher finds out he will need labrum surgery, he knows the road to recovery will be a challenge.

Word came out of the Twin Cities on Thursdayday that All-Star closer Glen Perkins is done for the season. In the next week, he will undergo surgery on a torn labrum and rotator cuff issues. This is a devastating blow to a back-end of the bullpen that has been a disaster to this point in the season.
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports
The initial prognosis was for Perkins to miss only a short amount of time. There were a few set-backs along the way before his most recent MRI showed the labrum and rotator cuff issues. Shoulder injuries often spell the end of a pitcher's career as the body tries to recover so a player can throw over 90 miles per hour.

Most of Twins Territory pondered a similar question when the news broke, "How often do pitchers recover from labrum injuries?"

Many fans have become accustomed to pitchers needing surgery at some point in their careers. Tommy John surgery has become commonplace in the baseball world because so many pitchers have the procedure. Also, the success rate is so high that it becomes an afterthought to fans. Labrum surgery is an entirely different animal.

There have been a few different studies on pitchers who were able to return from this type of surgery. Will Carroll, a baseball medical expert, wrote about labrum surgery back in the early 2000s. His results showed, "Of the 36 major-league hurlers diagnosed with labrum tears in the last five years, only midlevel reliever Rocky Biddle has returned to his previous level." One out of 36 is not very good odds.

Baseball Prospectus updated Carroll's study in a 2012 article. For the piece, Jay Jaffe found 67 players who had undergone some kind of labrum surgery, including names like Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Mark Mulder, and Mark Prior. There are obviously degrees of this kind of injury but only nine of the players returned to a level of success similar to what they had before their surgery.

Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda is one of the biggest names in recent years to have a labrum procedure. He's worked his way back to the big leagues with a 4.84 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over the last two seasons. When Pineda was diagnosed the Yankees team doctor said, "When the rotator cuff is damaged as part of the injury problem, that has a much worse prognosis and influences velocity and ability to pitch."

Unfortunately for Perkins, the rotator cuff is part of his diagnosis and it likely spells bad news for his future. He's in his 30s and has a lot of miles on his arm. Doctors and the medical field are continuing to improve and labrum surgery isn't the death sentence it once was for pitchers. This could give fans hope to see Perkins running out of the bullpen again, but the odds don't seem to be in his favor.

Will Glen Perkins beat the odds and come back from this surgery? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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13 Comments

I could not find the article, but I believe Perkins said he was going to play out his contract and retire in two years. He said he has missed too much of his kids lives.

If that was his plan, one would question why he would put himself through the surgeries and rehab required to working back from these injuries.
    • hybridbear likes this

 

I could not find the article, but I believe Perkins said he was going to play out his contract and retire in two years. He said he has missed too much of his kids lives.

If that was his plan, one would question why he would put himself through the surgeries and rehab required to working back from these injuriies.

 

His contract runs through next season, at $6.5M, with a club buyout option for $700K in 2018. If he's already talking about quitting to be with his family, I'd guess that he'll just delay an official retirement so he can collect the $7.2M. Maybe he'll try to pitch again in 2018 (although Pineda missed 2 full seasons), and maybe the Twins will make him some nominal offer to come back in a Twins uniform, but, as you say, if his heart isn't really in it beyond 2018, why bother?

He and I chatted about this at Twins Fest. His plan was to play out his contract and be done. He said when he came up in 2006 he talked a lot with Radko. Ranked could have had more surgeries but wanted to spend time watching his kids grow up. Perkins wants to be a present parent for his two daughters.
Ugh, this is a bummer, I really hope this isn't the last we have seen of Perkins.
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diehardtwinsfan
Jun 18 2016 08:18 AM

well, he's going to be spending a lot of time with his family this year at least.Unfortunately for Glen (and I like him), I think he's done.He will try and come back at some point next year. He's under contract and he will honor it, that's how he is...But that prognosis doesn't look good.

 

Best of luck to him. 

 

Oh, and question for the OP.Is there a difference in success level with starters vs. relievers?Kind of curious there.

Nothing against Perkins, but if he does make it back, I hope it isn't taking up space on the Twins roster. Go be a daddy ...... and SHAVE THAT NECK BEARD !!!
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Brock Beauchamp
Jun 18 2016 06:46 PM

I think the best case scenario is that he comes back and turns into a useful LOOGY for 2-3 seasons.

 

I think the most likely scenario is that he comes back, scuffles badly, and is out of baseball within 18 months.

 

Which is too bad because I really like Perkins.

He's getting paid $6.5 million this year and next, this injury will give him more incentive to save and invest wisely, and if he's already been talking retirement at the end of this contract, this injury spells The End.He'll get the surgery done, do some rehab, make it sound like he's trying to rehab (and earn his money), but unless it goes really well, I don't think we'll see him on the mound at Target Field again.

My biggest problem with this injury is that Glen just needed some rest, he then has a setback in his rehab, then next thing you know, he all of the sudden has a torn labrum?!  I know nothing about medicine, but this sort of thing is so commonplace with the Twins that it is almost comical.  How often do we see guys go from just needing rest to needing surgery in a matter of a month or so.  I believe the same sort of thing is happening to Alex Meyer.  The whole organization needs an overhaul right down to the medical staff.

    • hybridbear and rochester like this

I had surgery to repair a torn labrum.  The injury itself was no fun, the surgery was no fun, and the recovery was no fun.  Still have limited range of motion / mobility with that shoulder today. 

 

Mine was on my non-throwing shoulder, luckily.I can't even fathom trying to throw, much less pitch, with a torn labrum.Always admired Brad Radke for that.

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Cody Christie
Jun 20 2016 11:46 AM

 

well, he's going to be spending a lot of time with his family this year at least.Unfortunately for Glen (and I like him), I think he's done.He will try and come back at some point next year. He's under contract and he will honor it, that's how he is...But that prognosis doesn't look good.

 

Best of luck to him. 

 

Oh, and question for the OP.Is there a difference in success level with starters vs. relievers?Kind of curious there.

The studies don't break it down specifically for starters vs. relievers. Seems like it would be easier to come back as a relief pitcher. Fewer innings on the shoulder and less pressure to keep velocity up for an extended period of time.

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ashburyjohn
Jun 20 2016 12:29 PM

My biggest problem with this injury is that Glen just needed some rest, he then has a setback in his rehab, then next thing you know, he all of the sudden has a torn labrum?!  I know nothing about medicine, but this sort of thing is so commonplace with the Twins that it is almost comical.  How often do we see guys go from just needing rest to needing surgery in a matter of a month or so.  I believe the same sort of thing is happening to Alex Meyer.  The whole organization needs an overhaul right down to the medical staff.

Every team has this. I just took a look at the two Missouri teams, held in pretty high repute these days, and both the Cards and Royals have three or four of their 40-man pitchers on the DL. (OK, if you are on the 60-day DL you aren't on the 40-man, but you get my point). Naming a couple of guys and calling it a trend just means it's a major league team.

    • 70charger likes this

 

Every team has this. I just took a look at the two Missouri teams, held in pretty high repute these days, and both the Cards and Royals have three or four of their 40-man pitchers on the DL. (OK, if you are on the 60-day DL you aren't on the 40-man, but you get my point). Naming a couple of guys and calling it a trend just means it's a major league team.

 

Little bit late in this response, but to quote Aaron Gleeman's recent tweet.

 

"That injury Trevor Plouffe has been trying to play through? @RhettBollinger now says it's a "'cracked rib.'" Twins never stop Twins-ing."

 

My point wasn't that the Twins seem to have a lot of injuries.  My point was that they seem to always have injuries that start out as day-to-day and end up needing surgery.  Phil Hughes just had shoulder surgery.  The only reason he got surgery was because he broke his leg.  If that hadn't happened he would be pitching with a shoulder that required serious surgery.  Glen Perkins had a torn labrum.  He was put on the DL and when he tried to come back his shoulder still hurt, sought a second opinion, only to find out he had a torn labrum.  How do our doctors not spot these things?  And I understand that guys try to play through injury all the time, but, this  has gotten ridiculous.  Alex Meyer was optioned to AAA on May 4th, never pitched for them, and was finally put on the DL on June 4th (the 7 day DL mind you) and has yet to pitch for them.  What is going on there?


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