Last week I made a point of mentioning that promising rookie starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann was going to make some rehab starts starting last Tuesday with Advanced A Potomac. Well, that seemed very short lived as Zimmermann continues to feel tightness in his right elbow. So much tightness, in fact, that he was forced to miss a scheduled bullpen session and is now slated to see Dr. James Andrews. Yes, that Dr. James Andrews. Besides Doc Gooden and Dr. Pepper, there is probably not a better known doctor in all of sports. Dr. Andrews expertise and revolutionary work in sports medicine, especially with the shoulder, elbow, and wrist, makes people fly all the way to Birmingham, Alabama just to get a diagnosis.
So if he is such a great doctor, why does this post seem to have such a depressing tone? Well for starters, it means Zimmermann won’t be able to make his scheduled return to the rotation on Tuesday against the Braves, meaning Nationals fans will still have to suffer through Garrett Mock starts. It also probably has to do with the fact that most people who end up seeing Dr. Andrews end up needing to get Tommy John surgery. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the surgery, Tommy John surgery is a procedure where the doctor replaces a person’s ulnar collateral ligament(UCL for those of us who hated anatomy class) with a ligament collected from somewhere else in the body. Rehab following the surgery can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months as a player gets his strength and full range of motion back. And while it has been perfected over the past 30 years, it still does not have a 100% success rate, leaving some pitchers unable to reach the same levels of success that they had before the surgery.
So, let’s all collectively hold our breath and wish happy thoughts for Jordan as he goes to get his arm checked out by Dr. James Andrews because losing Zimmermann for a year could be devastating for his development as well as for the Nationals.