Hall of Fame sportswriter Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun has reported that Toronto Blue Jays RHP Drew Hutchison will require Tommy John surgery to repair damage to his right elbow. He will be heading to Birmingham, Alabama to meet Dr. James Andrews for his surgery. Recovery time from Tommy John surgery is typically 12 months, but depending on the progress, he may not see a return until Spring Training 2014.
Before his injury, Hutchison looked promising in his brief time in the Major Leagues, His best start came against the Baltimore Orioles on May 28, when he pitched 7 innings of shutout ball, striking out 9 Orioles while giving up just 3 hits and 3 walks.
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It was just a couple of weeks ago when it was reported that the 21-year old rookie pitcher had been able to avoid surgery. Hutchison, as you may remember (Tom Dakers certainly does), was pulled from June 15 start against the Philadelphia Phillies after throwing just 12 pitches with a strain to his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). That was, of course, just two days after fellow starter Kyle Drabek left with his own elbow injury. Drabek had Tommy John surgery in mid-June.
The Blue Jays and Drew Hutchison decided to wait almost two months before making the call to go for surgery. The awkward timing of the surgery would mean that, although Hutchison could be back as soon as August or September 2013, he would have to be shut down until 2014 if he needed few more weeks to recover. And rehab opportunities will be limited with minor league seasons ending in early September.
Now, it would be unfair for us to complain about the way the club handled this injury incident, because it is likely none of us were in the room when management, Hutchison, and his physicians discussed his recovery plans. However, Hutchison's case is just one of several incidents this season where the Blue Jays had downplayed the severity of an injury in the immediate aftermath, before later announcing that significant amounts of missed playing time would be required. How many times have we seen a "day-to-day" injury turn into a stint on the 60-day disabled list?
I don't know if it is because of spin by management for the public, misdiagnosis, or if there is a new policy of hoping-and-praying for miraculous recoveries. I still believe that the club knows best (and even if it doesn't, it knows better than any of us), but I do understand why some fans are frustrated with being given false hope, and why unfortunately some folks have even begun to distrust management. How do you feel about their handling of this particular case?
Good luck with your surgery and recovery, Drew. I look forward to seeing you help bolster a 2013 Blue Jays rotation that will be fighting to hold on to their division lead in September.