How Often Do Pitchers Recover From Labrum Injuries?
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson- USA Today SportsThe 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.