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MRI Reveals Torn UCL For Trevor May

Plans to turn around the Minnesota Twins rotation took a hit today with the news that Trevor May, a big factor in those designs, has suffered a tear to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Read on for details and quotes regarding the right-hander’s very unexpected setback.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs
In a decade of playing professional ball, May has amazingly been able to avoid any kind of significant elbow or shoulder issues. “I’ve literally never missed a day of baseball activity because my arm hurt,” he said.

So it isn’t too surprising that when he felt a “grab” on an 0-2 pitch against Andrew McCutchen while facing Team USA on Wednesday night, he downplayed it. When speaking to reporters after the game, he was very positive, signaling no distress or concern.

He came in the next morning and felt soreness, and then on Friday the tear showed up on a scan, which even in the pitcher’s non-medical opinion was “pretty conclusive.”

Standing outside the clubhouse on Saturday morning alongside top baseball executives Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, May was subdued but searching for silver linings. So, too, was the general manager.

“When the results of the MRI came back, it was a little bit unique in the sense that it sounded as if the wear and tear component, or the cumulative impact, was very minimal," Levine said. “It really was an acute injury ... That’s very atypical for a guy who has logged 10 years worth of pitching on his arm.”

“That gives us cause for optimism that maybe the health of the overall region is very strong but for this one acute area."

Of course, this doesn’t change the basic realities. May will seek a second opinion – no date or doctor has been scheduled as of yet – and there are a few potential options on the table, but Tommy John surgery seems likely.

Levine expressed no plans for reactive moves by the team, noting that injuries are always an expectation.

“I don’t think you ever have any misgivings that you’re going to go through the process without needing significantly more than five starters. You hate to have it happen at this point to a player who’s put in the that work he’s put in, but the reality is that’s why we built up some of the depth we did coming into camp and it’s going to give other guys opportunities.”

Among those guys are Tyler Duffey, Jose Berrios, Adalberto Mejia, Rule 5 pick Justin Haley and non-roster invite Ryan Vogelsong. Duffey pitched well in a road start for the Twins against Miami on Friday and Berrios is preparing to make his first start for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

For May, who was the subject of a feature here on Twins Daily just a couple days ago, it’s a difficult pill to swallow but he vows not to let it derail his determination.

"If it comes down to getting good old fashioned Tommy John, I’ll go from there,” May said. "I’m not a guy who’s gonna sit here and mope about how hard I worked and now it’s not gonna happen.”

“Yesterday was tough, but I’m probably going to go right back to that little notebook I have with me, and those goals I write down every day are just going to change from this year to next year.”


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121 Comments

Mejia should get a shot.

Berrios can take potentially Gibson's or Santiagos spot once Berrios has a few AAA innings under his belt.

By June hopefully Santiago and Gibby are traded, Twins need to give innings to guys who can help in the future IMO
    • tarheeltwinsfan and HitInAPinch like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Mar 11 2017 11:17 AM
Duffy has had an opportunity or two already. Give the 5th spot to Mejia with Berrios at AAA, on an early season pitch count, all stretched out and ready to be called up, when the next injury or melt-down occurs.
    • Carole Keller and 70charger like this

 

I can assure you there are plenty of people who believe this and there is some correlation to back it up:

http://joesheehan.com/?q=node/648

From that article:

What the two pitchers have in common is a career path that is destructive: moving from starter to reliever and back. Over the past decade, teams have ruined a number of pitchers by switching them from one role to the next and seeing the pitchers involved lose health and effectiveness in the process. The jobs have become so completely different -- as relievers' roles are narrowed to throwing 15 pitches 75 times a year -- that pitchers can't port their skills or their training from one to the other without putting themselves at risk.

 

I'm not seeing any statistics there to back anything up.

Until someone measures this, it's just an opinion. And in my eye it's a weak opinion.

    • DJSim22, ThejacKmp, Kwak and 2 others like this

 

 

Either way, I think it's clear that there is zero benefit by screwing with the development of young pitchers with upside.

Especially with a team like the Twins, who have had terrible SP for a half decade now. It's not like they had 5 aces in the rotation last year and their was zero room for May, a guy who could actually put up a sub 3.50 ERA.

There is zero benefit from messing with development of high upside guys like this, hopefully they learn this lesson moving fwd.

 

Johan Santana worked out fine.

    • DJSim22, ThejacKmp, ken and 1 other like this
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Deduno Abides
Mar 11 2017 11:20 AM

I'm not seeing any statistics there to back anything up.
Until someone measures this, it's just an opinion. And in my eye it's a weak opinion.


Doing the Hokey Pokey never made anyone a better dancer.
    • DaveW, TheLeviathan, Circus Boy and 1 other like this

 

Who's everyone got for the fifth starter now?

My gag-inducing best guess is Vogelsong is the leading candidate for the spot. I told a friend when they signed him that I expected him to win the #5 spot ... because it seems "veteran presence" trumps "ability" and "talent" with Molitor and, at least it appears so far, the new front office.

    • sftwinsfan, d-mac and Dave The Dastardly like this
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Deduno Abides
Mar 11 2017 11:25 AM

Johan Santana worked out fine.


Different. Santana started in the majors as a long reliever.

This is seriously just the worst.

    • Carole Keller, Jerr, HitInAPinch and 1 other like this
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HitInAPinch
Mar 11 2017 11:28 AM

 

 

I can assure you there are plenty of people who believe this and there is some correlation to back it up:

http://joesheehan.com/?q=node/648

From that article:

What the two pitchers have in common is a career path that is destructive: moving from starter to reliever and back. Over the past decade, teams have ruined a number of pitchers by switching them from one role to the next and seeing the pitchers involved lose health and effectiveness in the process. The jobs have become so completely different -- as relievers' roles are narrowed to throwing 15 pitches 75 times a year -- that pitchers can't port their skills or their training from one to the other without putting themselves at risk.

From that article [called How to Break Pitchers] I get what you're saying.

 

 "Breaking in pitchers as relievers worked when the jobs were closer in their practice than they are today. Now, teams don't roster swingmen or long relievers."

 

"Back in '65, when Weaver broke in Palmer, there were 454 relief appearances in which a pitcher threw at least 3 1/3 innings."

 

I can't say what the Twins original plan was when they moved May to the bullpen, other than they wanted a guy with a big fastball in the pen.If May had been used more as the Long Relievers of yore [or Juan Berenguer] he would have been more "stretched out", so to speak. Throwing harder [and more frequently] than he had previously as a starter in MiLB exacerbated his back problem and probably the cause of the torn ulnar collateral ligament.

 

 

    • DaveW likes this

Why are we surprised?  Last year May was hurt and we were told that he should go to the starting rotation for his physical well being.  Pitching is a terrible difficult physical demand and if he was breaking down in the bullpen, how was starting going to change that?  I hate to see any player go down, but disappointment, not shock is my response. Now, concentrate on the young pitchers.  Help them to succeed.  Push the mediocre aging pitchers out at the same time.  

 

Different. Santana started in the majors as a long reliever.

 

Nope. He went between starting and relieving for four full years.

Johan Santana worked out fine.

Santana was in the bullpen because he was a rule 5 pick and they had to stash him

I'm not seeing any statistics there to back anything up.

Until someone measures this, it's just an opinion. And in my eye it's a weak opinion.


Sheehan is one of the most respected baseball minds there is fwiw. This isn't just some random blogger or something.

 

 

Sheehan is one of the most respected baseball minds there is fwiw. This isn't just some random blogger or something.

 

Let me know when Sheehan backs up this 4 year old article with some research.

    • birdwatcher, DJSim22 and spinowner like this
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Winston Smith
Mar 11 2017 11:37 AM

I think we need to get a grip here. At his best May has been mediocre to this point in his career, he isn't a top of the rotation guy we're losing.

 

Let's hope he can come back and be a decent pitcher because even decent is better than most of what we have, imo.

    • DJSim22, PseudoSABR, Kwak and 3 others like this

I think we need to get a grip here. At his best May has been mediocre to this point in his career, he isn't a top of the rotation guy we're losing.

Let's hope he can come back and be a decent pitcher because even decent is better than most of what we have, imo.

At his best May was one of the better 8th inning guys in baseball and looking to be a good bet to be a solid #3 as a starter. Not to mention he very likely would have been the Twins second best SP this year.

Hardly mediocre.
    • Ben B, Sconnie, HitInAPinch and 2 others like this
Bummer, big time. Hope this doesn't affect his controller grip. Wait a second...two major video games came out in the last week...

Forget Terry Ryan. I'm blaming Nintendo for this one.

 

Mejia projects to be a back end guy, you don't have to worry as much about rushing him or moving him between majors and the minors multiple times, plus it would be good to see what he has.

 

May is a back end guy too, but you believe bouncing him around destroyed his arm. 

 

I'm not getting you today, at all.

 

Well for one thing: Santana ended up having significant arm injuries that ended up cutting his career very short.
 

 

Do you think his early career had anything to do with Santana's arm injury? Did you see how many arms his last manager shredded before learning the hard way to start using innings limits and pitch counts?

 

 

At his best May was one of the better 8th inning guys in baseball and looking to be a good bet to be a solid #3 as a starter.

 

Lots of us wanted him to be those things so badly that we imagined them to be true. None of this ever was true.

 

I'm not saying he did not have potential, I'm saying he never lived up to our desires. This isn't his fault, as far as I can tell.

    • Winston Smith and sftwinsfan like this

I'm not going to address any specific post(s) but I think it's sheer guesswork on our part whether the changes in his role on the staff contributed to this injury. That may have or it may not have, I don't know. I would put stock in the opinion of an orthopedic surgeon or perhaps another health care provider but not in the opinion of a baseball writer or a web site participant.

    • Carole Keller, glunn, Jerr and 8 others like this
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jorgenswest
Mar 11 2017 11:53 AM
They could turn to the guy that had the best xFIP among their starters last year at 3.89 (Santana was 4.21).
Pitchers get hurt. And statistically the best predictor of injury is previous injury.

It sicks May and the Twins, but he does seem to have a good attitude about it and ready to attack his rehab.
    • Riverbrian, HitInAPinch and MN_ExPat like this
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Carole Keller
Mar 11 2017 11:56 AM

 

I'm not going to address any specific post(s) but I think it's sheer guesswork on our part whether the changes in his role on the staff contributed to this injury. That may have or it may not have, I don't know. I would put stock in the opinion of an orthopedic surgeon or perhaps another health care provider but not in the opinion of a baseball writer or a web site participant.

Right. Why I'm hoping heazy will jump in with some perspective. Sometimes **** just happens.

    • glunn, Riverbrian, Dantes929 and 2 others like this

I tend to agree. Wonder if Heazy is around and can give us an expert opinion and perspective on this. But I've never seen any kind of correlation in this unless mentally it forced him to do something differently. Difficult to know for sure, so yeah, I do tend to agree.


I can't say I'm aware of any data on switching between roles (SP/RP) but there is some fairly good data that discusses the effects of core injuries and that it can result in increased stress on the shoulder and elbow. So perhaps indirectly, if we believe his transition to the bullpen was a contributing factor to his back issues, we could say that switching may have been related to the current problem.

A more interesting question to me is, since this was an acute injury, is he a candidate for a direct repair instead of TJ...
    • Carole Keller, glunn, brvama and 9 others like this

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