Posted: 11:45 am Friday, March 14th, 2014

Braves’ Beachy might need another Tommy John surgery 

By David O'Brien

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Pitcher Brandon Beachy’s arm injury appears to be far worse than he and the Braves initially believed, and he could find out Monday that he needs a second Tommy John elbow surgery and another year-long rehabilitation.

The Braves face the almost unimaginable, but quite real, possibility that starting pitchers Kris Medlen and Beachy could both be told Monday when they visit Dr. James Andrews that each needs to have a second ligament-transplant surgery, aka “Tommy John” surgery. Andrews did TJ surgery on Medlen in 2010 and on Beachy in June 2012.

Medlen, the planned opening-day starter who left Sunday’s game against the Mets after feeling stabbing pain in his surgically repaired elbow, had an MRI and other tests this week in Orlando and has already come to grips with knowing he’ll almost certainly need Tommy John surgery again.

And now Beachy, 27, knows he might also need his third overall surgery and second TJ surgery in a span of about 21 months. That’s assuming that Andrews would even recommend having so many surgeries  within such a short period of time.

“Lot of frustration,” Beachy said Friday. “Really, really frustrated.”

Medlen and Beachy would join fellow Braves pitcher Jonny Venters in attempting to be among the few pitchers to come back from two Tommy John surgeries and pitch at or near the same level as before. Andrews has placed the success rate at about 20 percent for pitchers to return to pre-surgery form after a second TJ surgery, and the percentage has been higher for relievers than starters.

Upon leaving Monday’s game against the Phillies after only two innings, Beachy told reporters that he wasn’t concerned because he’d been told his new ulnar collateral ligament was “fine” and that he was merely having some biceps tightness from inflammation common for pitchers recovering from surgery (he had an arthroscopic procedure in September to remove a bone chip from his elbow).

“I’ve seen the doctors. They’ve done everything. My ligament’s fine,” Beachy said Monday.

He found out otherwise this week when had tests done in Orlando — he and Medlen had the same tests done — that showed a possible ligament tear. For patients who’ve had a previous Tommy John surgery, the MRI can be “cloudy” around the repaired area and difficult to read, but both pitchers also had a stress X-ray that showed apparent ligament damage.

“I was pretty confident when I talked to you guys after the game on Monday,” Beachy said. “That was based on what I was told. I was being honest. Now it looks like it might be something else. So it’s frustrating. Very frustrating.”

It’s been a long and still-winding road of recovery for Beachy, who had a 2.00 ERA and majors-leading .171 opponents’ average in 13 starts before Tommy John surgery in 2012. He was limited to five starts last season before being shut down again and having his elbow ‘scoped.

Andrews, a leading practitioner of Tommy John surgery, did all the previous elbow surgeries on Beachy and Medlen — and both of Venters’ TJ surgeries —  and will view the MRIs and examine the pitchers at his clinic near Pensacola, Fla., before making a recommendation.

If more surgery is needed, it will most likely happen soon afterward — often an athlete will stay in Pensacola to have the surgery within 24 hours of being examined. Under normal circumstances, Medlen and Beachy would already have traveled to Andrews’ Florida clinic, but he and other orthopedic surgeons are at a national conference in New Orleans that runs through the weekend.

After Medlen’s injury Sunday, Braves general manager Frank Wren called the agent for free agent pitcher Ervin Santana, and those talks gained more of an urgency after Beachy left Monday’s game. The Braves worked out a one-year, $14.1 million deal with Santana on Tuesday night and announced the signing Wednesday.

The Braves are also expected to start the season without left-hander Mike Minor in the rotation, since he was shut down in January following urinary-tract surgery, then missed a week early in camp due to shoulder soreness. Minor has thrown several bullpen sessions but hasn’t faced hitters yet in batting practice, and a mid-April return now seems most likely.

Offseason free-agent pickup Gavin Floyd’s rehab from Tommy John surgery in May has gone well and he could join the Braves’ rotation by early May.

Santana, who threw his first batting-practice session Monday, could get into a spring-training game in the next week. The Braves say they won’t rush him into the rotation for the first week of the season, since he signed late and needs to build his pitch-count progression in games. Due to early off days in the schedule the Braves can get by with four starters without any having to go on short rest for the first 10 games of the season.

They wouldn’t need a fifth starter until the 11th game of the season, April 12 against the Nationals, and Santana could be ready by then if not sooner.

The Braves are expected to open the season with a four-man rotation of likely opening-day starter Julio Teheran, 37-year-old Freddy Garcia, second-year left-hander Alex Wood, and rookie David Hale. It’s quite a bit different than what they had envisioned before Minor’s January setback and the injuries to Medlen and Beachy.

85 comments
BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

Sad to hear about Beachy.........he never did come back from that 1st TJ and it looks as though his time pitching even in the future is done.....I guess he is one of those 20-30% of pitchers that never make it back from TJ the first time................the odds are against Medlen too........lets hope that Minor makes it back soon!

massbrave
massbrave

I understand that this happens all the time throughout the league, but this could be an indication of problems within our pitching and training staffs. We have multiple pitchers who are getting reinjured and have to sit out the year. Beachy will sit almost 2 1/2 years with a couple games last year and now we have to pray that none of our pitchers get injured mid-season(which will almost definitely happen, since thats a part of the game). We are going to need another move for a SP so we dont have to panic when that eventual injury does happen

JohnSidey
JohnSidey

The Braves will be terrible this year.   I bet they don't win 50 games with that starting rotation.

mrarlington
mrarlington

Do the Brave's have a strength and conditioning coach? They seem to be injured and lack of preparation has to be at least partially responsible.

TheMonger
TheMonger

I am skeptical about Andrews being a leading anything anymore.  All I see is pitcher's arms falling off after he performs surgery on them.  Beachy only pitched in 5 games after his first TJ and he is already needing another?  Medlen has a 2nd TJ only 4 years after his first?  3 arm surgeries for Beachy in 21 months?  Venters needing a 2nd TJ surgery, and since this loser James Andrews did it, I am confident Venters will need a 3rd Tommy John surgery.  Can the Braves please for the love of God find another surgeon?  The dude is 80 years old and never has good news to tell.  In case haven't noticed Andrews recommends TJ surgery 99.9 percent of the time, and then does a poor job to boot.  Pathetic.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Is Minor next?  Its a proven fact Leo had less arm problems than McDowell has. Braves have had 7 or more in last few years. Leo made all pitchers pitch everyday even after game day which most  pitchers didn't like an bitched about but it worked. Why McDowell's pitchers are having problems is any ones guess. I've not heard  pitchers  bitching. Could that mean Mac is to easy on them....?  I would see  a different Doctor that's  for sure.


TexanBrave .. I feel your pain and good luck with your HS team..

TexanBrave
TexanBrave

To some of the shills that seem satisfied with the last 6, 7 years....keep rooting and rationalizing our "bad luck" in staff health....  I've been loyal and watch 120 -150 games year after year even though I moved to Texas and still coach HS ball....    I only contribute once a week or so as the finger pointing is fragmented but the constant variable is still present......  ...and to the point, I won't start blaming RM for the staff woes and careers he has ruined......I'll just bring it up again for the 5th or 6th or 7th year now...  Lost count...  y'all were on Freddie the last couple years and you had the wrong culprit.....    to be continued next year...   Good luck and at least you can't beat up on the Stro's this year...

MitchellC
MitchellC

This is not good news for the atarting rotation.   Hopefully  Santana can give a good return for the 14 mil. I went from thinking this team had a good chance to win the NL East to now not knowing what they will do. 

WilliamHuff
WilliamHuff

didnt have this prob with the other pitching coach... fire mcdowell

kerryb
kerryb

Either the Braves are teaching something with their pitchers that hurt their arms or it's time for Dr. Andrews to retire.  Starting to be too many he's having to do over.

NotAWrenFan
NotAWrenFan

Injuries are a part of the game but conditioning is also a part. Years past the Braves staff didn't have issues because of their conditioning. Sure Avery's name is tossed up and Smoltz, and lets not forget how hard Stanton threw before Cox ran his arm in the ground, but pitchers were taught how to condition themselves for a 162 game season. This starts while they're in the minors. No other team has had four pitchers go down in a little more than a calendar year with this type of injury. Obviously there's a repeating issue here that someone needs to look in to. It's not the inning cap these young men are under as they prepare for the majors, arm strength, flexibility, and endurance is the part that seems to be sidestepped. Off season conditioning. Unfortunately for these two young men their careers are probably over. As is Venters. Only advantage he has is he's a lefty, which may help him hang around a short while. With all the technology out there and guidance from minor league instructors, how does this injury occur so frequently within this organization?

Pat_Pending
Pat_Pending

The slider is a great pitch but it's an arm killer. Ask Smoltz. He should be in the HOF with wins and saves and the torque he put on his elbow all that time.

That said, every pitch can be your last. You just have to rock and fire.

RWill2073
RWill2073

I know this is unsettling for a lot of Braves fans, but if you're looking for answers right now as to why this is happening, google Chris O'Leary pitching mechanics.  Look at what makes a sound delivery and what makes a problematic one.  His site is incredibly accurate and will allow you to see it before it happens.  I called it on Beachy before his first surgery, said Medlen's wasn't a surprise because he has some bad mechanics, and I will say that I am very worried that Kimbrel will go down before his contract is up.  I thought extending him was a bad deal.  It's a lot of money for a reliever, and way too much for one with bad mechanics.  


Don't try blaming McDowell.  Mazzone had Smoltz and Avery, both of whom had bad mechanics and were injury prone.  Smoltz was just a freak of nature to last as long as he did.  Maybe the scouts need to look for different things when evaluating pitchers though.  We seem to stockpile a lot of pitchers with bad mechanics from the time they're drafted.  We're on par with the Cardinals and Nationals in that regard.  


And we aren't alone in this malady.  Watch the Mets over the next few years.  Already lost Harvey, they're all excited about Wheeler, but he will go down in the next few years for TJ surgery.  And so will their top prospect Noah Syndergaard.  The Cardinals have four starters who all will and/or have had arm troubles in Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and Shelby Miller.  The Nationals will lose one of their big three of Zimmerman, Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez to arm injuries very soon.  I wouldn't be surprised to see one them go down this year.  No one ever thinks of Matt Cain of the Giants as a ticking time bomb, but he is.  


It's sad for these guys, I really like Medlen, never got attached to Beachy because I knew as soon as he was called up he wouldn't last.  I hope the Braves start to draft pitchers with more sound mechanics in the future. 

1337S0lja
1337S0lja

Next man up mentality! There is no one else to step up. We have NO flame thrower that can be a threat in the playoffs.  Think realistically about this.  The Braves are like your highschool sweetheart,  they build you up and then drop you when it matters.

1337S0lja
1337S0lja

Welcome to Atlanta where nothing ever goes our way.  Welcome to Atlanta where fans and media never put enough pressure on our teams to win. Welcome to Atlanta where we have more Moral victories than Joel Olsteen.

Bogey
Bogey

And for you guys screaming for Wren's head because he wasn't in on Fister....are you nuts?  Or do you live your lives completely thru hindsight so you can always tell people how right you are?


Medlin, Beachy, Minor, Teheran, Garcia, Wood, Hale, Floyd PLUS Cabrera, Hursh, Sims, Graham coming up in a year or so.  Trying to figure out why you wanted Wren in the off-season to invest millions on a long-term deal on a big $ FA or trade away these assets for a rental pitcher....


You can always find bullpen guys easier than reliable starters.  My suggestion is to look hard at converting Avalon back to a starter.

Bogey
Bogey

Always amazing how many people immediately feel the need to assign blame and fire someone!!  Do you really think other pitching coaches know something Roger doesn't??  OR that Wren, Schuerholz, Fredi, etc. let him do whatever he wants with their pitchers??


And if Leo was so good, then why did Avery's career get cut short?  Why did Smoltz go through about 20 surgeries and finally end up in the pen?  We all remember how durable Glavine and Maddux were...well their deliveries were extremely simple and maybe they were just freaks that way.


Maybe its just really bad luck.  I feel bad for both of them.

slydawg
slydawg

Deep, deep, deep down in my gut, I felt like Beachy needed another surgery a few weeks after he came back. I believe he and the Braves tip-toed around the issue hoping for a miracle. I said it before and I'll say it again: Frank Wren is snake-bitten. He is the bad luck chick. The Braves should have traded for "win now" pitching in the off-season. 

Teddy_B
Teddy_B

Okay, two of our starters go down with similar injuries after they have both already had TJ surgery in the past. This isn't common at all, something is seriously wrong with the Braves throwing program if we can't keep our young guys healthy. The success rate of coming back from a 2nd Tommy John surgery is about 20%, or at least that is what Dr. Andrews stated the last time he was talking about pitchers who have to undergo the procedure twice.


Look around the league, I can't even remember the last time I've seen two guys on the same team blow up their elbows at about the same time, let alone two guys on the same team needing a second TJ surgery at about the same time. 

I REALLY think our pitching coach should be partly responsible because obviously he isn't teaching the guys how to avoid injury and it seems that we have been overusing our pitchers the past few years. Jonny Venters threw more innings than anyone else in the MLB a couple yrs back and now he's a  Tommy John victim too. 


Unbelievable...Hope it isn't that bad, but chances are it is that bad since they are already throwing up the possibility. Get well soon, Beachy! We are rooting for you, bud!


=*(

MikeY1959
MikeY1959

Maybe while Meds and Beachy are recovering from TJ, they can go ahead and have some preventative procedures:

1) Appendix out

2) Minor urinary tract procedure

3) LASIK

May as well take care of these while on down-time.

MikeY1959
MikeY1959

"orthopedic surgeons are at a national conference in New Orleans that runs through the weekend."

Jimmy Buffett said it best:

"We're stayin' in a holiday inn full of surgeons
I guess they meet there once a year
They exchange physician's stories
And get drunk on tuborg beer
Then they're off to catch a stripper
With their eyes glued to her "g"
But I don't think that I would ever let 'em cut on me"

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Watching Beachy closely on TV when he returned last year, the stress he puts on his arm and elbow is mind-boggling and unsettling to watch. The movement he gets on his pitches is mind-boggling, too.

The Braves had the best pitching staff in MLB last year. I hate seeing pitchers go down, but I find it almost impossible to criticize the Braves management. If anything, they are way too soft on starters at the expense of their bullpen, but in context of how teams use pitchers these days it's just the new norm.

Hammerman
Hammerman

Beachy and Medlen,good guys, good pitchers.The reality is these two are done,at least they weren't extended.Just like the NFL,next man up!

TeddyJackEddy
TeddyJackEddy

Braves' management  needs tov take a look at everything they're doing with pitchers. So many repeat TJ injuries seems like a huge red flag. Dr Andrews is 72 years old, it might be time to let a younger man handle these cases.




PS. I am beyond frustrated with trying to type here. PLEASE fix this software.

Chop_Chop
Chop_Chop

Both Medlen and Beachy will have a difficult time ever being in a starting rotation again, and given our ability to go out and find good relievers, I have a feeling that we may have seen the last of these two in a Braves uniform.

Thejoelsalazar
Thejoelsalazar

Damn, Brandon beachy is my favorite braves pitcher. I remember seeing him as a semptember call up a couple years back and facing the phillies when they had a decent team. Seeing him grow and perform on an "ace" level when he posted that 1 era was super exciting. I hope he comes back from this, for the good of braves baseball

iamlistening
iamlistening

I think the team needs to be competitive and not too far out of playoff contention come mid-June. By that time, the starting staff will be settled and should be rounding into a groove… Teheran, Minor, Santana, Wood, Floyd. I just don't think Garcia will have the juice to make it an entire season. As a matter of fact, if Garcia can last through June (giving it his all), then Floyd can take over. That would be the best case scenario… This would also give Floyd a little longer to recover and build up strength for the second half of the season. Oh, and when a pitcher is said to have an arm injury, always plan for the worse.

adarian652
adarian652

UHUH!!!!!Like I have said before, start blaming the losses on Uggla the Upton brothers and Heyward. Another season . Go Cobb County Braves!!!!

extremus
extremus

It will obviously be a trial-by-fire season for Alex Wood and David Hale.  I think Teheran will step up and become the rotation's leader and ace (I sure hope so), and Minor is showing more confidence and consistency, but this entire rotation is basically a huge question mark going into the season.


I wish Medlen and Beachy the best, but let's face facts: they're both young pitchers who'll be coming off TWO Tommy John surgeries the next time around.  It may not seem fair, but considering that even when they return there are no guarantees of either health or performance, the Braves need to be looking at other options long-term.  Likewise with Venters (whose being badly overused a few years back really came back to hurt him AND the Braves); fortunately they're well-stocked in the bullpen (at least for now; I fear the bullpen will be seeing LOTS of use at lest early on this season).

FatherofFive
FatherofFive

Good thing we have our #1 draft pick, SEAN GILMARTIN.  Oh, wait a minute . . .

crapbag
crapbag

Either Tommy John surgery isn't as effective as everyone as thought, the first surgery wasn't done properly, or these guys have something in their delivery that is overly stressful on that ligament. I had high hopes for both of these guys, but I cant see them on the team long term now. Two TJ's each? sorry, I just dont see this being conducive to long pitching careers. Really sad, they are very talented. Wish them the best of luck.

Gman84
Gman84

Just crazy...not even the middle of March and we are reduced to a four-man rotation of likely opening-day starter JulioTeheran, 37-year-old Freddy Garcia, second-year left-hander Alex Wood, and rookie David Hale.

Can't imagine what's next

BeastOPS
BeastOPS

Isn't it about time for Kimbrel to feel some soreness?  Maybe Tehran and Minor too...

Hodor
Hodor

It does make you wonder about the regimen for these guys.  Surely, the Braves are showing many more problems with pitchers than they use to.  I am surprised McDowell is still on the staff, anyway.

Gman84
Gman84

Seemed like Tmmy John had become routine-take a year off and come back better than ever.

Bizarre that the second surgery has happend to the third pitcher with the same team in such a short period of time. Also crazy is the rate of TJ surgeries for Braves pitchers in general over the past few years.

With our staff it's no longer a matter of "if" but "when" and we seemingly need 8 or 9 starters vs everyone else's 5.

BeastOPS
BeastOPS

This is getting rediculous!

frenzy_army
frenzy_army

I knew it. If it was just Medlen they wouldn't have gone over budget with Santana. They were bluffing on the seriousness of Beachy's arm issues.

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

@kerryb  I'm not sure it's what the Braves are teaching I think it's just the nature of the game today. Pitchers start throwing sliders & cutters in high school and little leaguers are throwing curveballs and with travel leagues starting at about 12 these kids have logged a lot miles on their arms by the time they get to the majors.   

RWill2073
RWill2073

@NotAWrenFan  There is an answer, all you have to do is google what I said to google.  

RWill2073
RWill2073

@Pat_Pending  It isn't the slider that does it.  A slider didn't hurt Smoltz, Smoltz' mechanics hurt Smoltz.  

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

@RWill2073  Chris O’Leary is selling an infomercial product and obviously you are buying it but if you think for one minute this is the cure all to keep your kid from getting hurt you are nuts.Yes bad mechanics can cause arm trouble, anyone who has followed baseball for a few years knows that but the stress you put on your ligaments by where your fingers are and the turning of your wrist causes as much, or more, damage then bad mechanics.Mark Fidrych is perfect example of pitcher who blew his arm out due to bad mechanics and more recently Tommy Hanson would be a good example of someone whose bad mechanics caused some kind of problem to make him lose velocity.You can’t tell me all the pitchers every year that go under the knife for Tommy John surgery have bad mechanics but I bet you they all throw a slider or cut fastball or if they are a 10 year veteran they may still be throwing the split finger fastball.Nobody has ever said Medlen or Beachy had bad mechanics but yet here they are having surgery again.

Good mechanics can be the difference between being a good pitcher and being a Hall of Famer but that is not what is causing the rash of injuries to pitchers the last 10 years.

kerryb
kerryb

@1337S0lja  Not too many flame throwers period in baseball as starters.  Most of the flame throwers are relievers.  Braves have good young arms in Teheran and Wood just not a lot of experience.

BeastOPS
BeastOPS

That's assuming each of those 4 stay healthy. 

RWill2073
RWill2073

@BRAVES2143 @RWill2073  Lol, you use Tommy Hanson as an example.  Chris O'Leary explains his poor mechanics quite well.  No, not every pitcher that needs TJ surgery has bad mechanics, but pitchers with bad mechanics are way more likely to need TJ surgery.  Look at Beachy's mechanics.  Compare them to pitchers like Smoltz or Mark Prior.  Then tell me he doesn't have bad mechanics.  There are common problems you can see for yourself (it really isn't that hard to see if you look) that are good indications that a pitcher will be injury prone.  


Remember who I list and get back to me.  


Kimbrel will need TJ surgery eventually, although being a reliever might save him.

David Hale will need TJ surgery soon.

I like Teheran and Minor, and don't think they'll have too many problems.  But, if Teheran has any problems, it won't be elbow, it will be shoulder.

Alex Wood will need TJ someday.


As for other teams, Shelby Miller of the Cardinals, Matt Cain of the Giants, Gio Gonzalez of the Nats.  That's not even mentioning the guys who have already had problems that will have more.  


The Mets' future is what we're going through now.  Harvey already down, Syndergaard and Wheeler will too.  


I mean, I get that he's selling himself, but he's pretty dang accurate.  I mean, Mark Prior was touted as having "perfect mechanics", and look what he went through.  

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

@RWill2073 @BRAVES2143  And how many of these pitchers throw a slider or cut fastball every other pitch?   You see everyone you mentioned does that but I agree bad mechanics are not good but bad pitch choice is worse and probably in 10 years you will see less pitchers throwing these types of pitches.  My point,  a pitcher with bad mechanics who just throws a fastball, cruveball, basic changeup will last longer then a pitcher with perfect mechanics who throws a slider every other pitch.  


I also agree with you on Kimbrel, he will have problems if he continues to use his slider as his go to pitch but Alex Wood I'm not so sure of.  Wood get's his body square and if you look at him more closely his strange delivery is more with his set up and body movements than his arm angle.