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  • Wimmers Goes Under the Knife

    An outcome that has long seemed inevitable became a reality today when it was announced that pitching prospect Alex Wimmers was slated to undergo Tommy John surgery. It's a major setback in a career that hasn't really been able to get off the starting block.

    The story leading up to this news is a familiar and frustrating one. Back in April, Wimmers landed on the disabled list after one start with what was thought to be a minor elbow strain. An MRI exam in early May revealed a partial tear in his UCL. The Twins opted for rehab.

    He spent the next couple months wearing a stabilizer, resumed throwing in early July and took the mound later that month for a start in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

    Wimmers didn't make it through the first inning. He allowed three runs on four hits and a walk while recording two outs. After the outing, he reported discomfort in the elbow, and after another MRI the Twins opted for surgery.

    Between Wimmers, Scott Baker and Kyle Gibson, that's three instances in the past two seasons where the medical staff became aware of a pitcher's elbow issue and either misdiagnosed it or prescribed a futile rest/rehab solution. Take it back even further and you can include names like Pat Neshek and Francisco Liriano.

    Understandably, surgery is seen as a last resort, but in many of these cases the ultimately misguided decision to delay action can have a profoundly negative impact on these players' careers. For example, there's a chance Wimmers won't return until 2014, at which point he'll be a 25 with one career start above Single-A. Had he undergone surgery back in May when the tear was first discovered, he may have been able to come back midway through next season.

    I don't have nearly enough insight on the situation to condemn the medical staff and it's possible this happens just as frequently in other organizations, but on the surface it just looks bad especially for a pitching-starved franchise with so little margin for error when it comes to handling its prospective young arms.

    Either way, complaining about the process avoids what is at the heart of this issue: terrible luck. The Twins had the foresight to addressing their upcoming dearth of starting pitching by drafting fast-track college starters in the first round two years in a row, and within a couple years of joining the organization each one succumbed to one of the most significant injuries a hurler can have.

    You can perhaps blame the Twins for pushing back timelines, but you can't blame them for the injuries themselves occurring. These are outside circumstances taking an immense toll on Terry Ryan's ability to rebuild a depleted rotation. For that, he should probably be cut some slack.
    This article was originally published in blog: Wimmers Goes Under the Knife started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Maybe the Twins could make a contract with the Mayo clinic to provide medical personnel?
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Oh, this'll be good....
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Oh, this'll be good....
      From Prospect to Suspect in a few years.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      They should have done it right away. 'Resting' never works. When will he be back now? 2015?! He falls off the prospect map and should be in the 25-35 range now.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Gibson had his Sept 7 (I believe) and was back Juy 10.
      That's 2 months, which seems about right. If Wimmers had it in May/June, he coulda been back for the start of the year (rehab only of course).
      Now, he should probably start in beginning of June (start of GCL??)
      He may get an extra month than Gibson got BUT it still suxx
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by greengoblinrulz View Post
      Gibson had his Sept 7 (I believe) and was back Juy 10.
      That's 2 months, which seems about right. If Wimmers had it in May/June, he coulda been back for the start of the year (rehab only of course).
      Now, he should probably start in beginning of June (start of GCL??)
      He may get an extra month than Gibson got BUT it still suxx
      I don't see it as a huge difference. He wasn't pitching in the majors next year either way.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Good luck for a speedy recovery for Alex Wimmers. Study pitching strategy, talk to great pitchers, and pedal the hell out of the exercise bike. Time to learn to use everything other than your arm for power.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      RocketPig, can you so a search of the minor league forum from BYTO? I believe a few guys went so far to predict Tommy John in August...
    1. rinkratfrits's Avatar
      rinkratfrits -
      It should just be SOP for college arms to have TJ surgery when they get drafted!!!!
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      It should just be SOP for college arms to have TJ surgery when they get drafted!!!!
      This is silly at best and counterproductive. I understand the frustration many feel, especially when the Twins best prospects seem to be dropping like flys. Surgery, rightly, should be a last resort. There are way too many things that can go wrong with any surgery, especiially complicated ones like TJ surgeries.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      RocketPig, can you so a search of the minor league forum from BYTO? I believe a few guys went so far to predict Tommy John in August...
      Ugh. I keep forgetting that I promised to get a BYTO archive up someplace. I'll see if I can't fit that in some time soon.
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