Pitching Injuries -- And Rehab Assignments -- Around MLB Continue

By Abby Sims
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Jeurys Familia
Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ 23-year-old right-handed reliever, is scheduled for surgery to remove bone chips and other loose bodies from his elbow. Though any surgery is debilitating — and Familia’s arm will require time to heal, strengthen and progress back to competitive shape — it is key to note that recovery time is accelerated when there is no repair involved. What must be considered though, is what may have caused Familia’s problem in the first place and how to prevent recurrence. His mechanics will certainly be up for review.

Michael Pineda
The Yankees are hoping to send starter Michael Pineda to the big-league mound sometime later this month. He is scheduled to begin a series of rehab assignments after pitching successfully in an extended spring training game; The 24-year-old righty, an All-Star in his rookie season with the Mariners in 2011, has yet to pitch for New York. After receiving a diagnosis of tendinitis — likely to one of the rotator cuff tendons — toward the close of his first spring training with the Yankees, Pineda sustained a shoulder labral tear during his rehabilitation. Surgery to repair the labrum was performed on May 1, 2012.

Though he also had some elbow issues early in his minor league career, missing much of the 2009 season due to a reported strain, Pineda recovered fully, becoming a top minor league prospect for the Mariners. He was stellar leading up to the All-Star break in his rookie campaign with Seattle, and the Yankees had high hopes for him. Despite this tortuous start to his career in New York, I think that Pineda will come through. He’s young, very talented and has matured while learning a few lessons the hard way. The Yankees have not rushed Pineda’s return this time around and, if he stays healthy, is a good bet to return to the form of his rookie season.

Stephen Strasburg
Another young pitcher with an injury, albeit one that is less significant, is Washington’s phenom Stephen Strasburg. The 24-year-old right-hander (who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010) left the game on May 31st after the second inning with what was subsequently reported to be a mild (Grade 1) latissimus (lat) strain. Strasburg would probably have just stayed in the game and reportedly hoped not to miss a start.

Clearly Strasburg has not learned the lesson taught yet again, this time by teammate Bryce Harper. The outfielder’s effectiveness at the plate and in the field diminished significantly after sustaining a knee injury in a collision with the outfield wall in Atlanta on April 29th. He exacerbated the injury in a subsequent game, yet only now admits he should have gone on the DL from the outset. Harper has been diagnosed with bursitis, and playing with pain hasn’t been working for him. In the meantime, he wasn’t able to contribute and lost more time to his recovery. It’s like the refrain to an old song we just keep on singing.

More tomorrow on bursitis…

As for Strasburg, even a mild strain can be persistent, and the involved muscle can remain vulnerable, especially if he returns to competition. Strasburg is reportedly slated for a bullpen session tomorrow and if that goes well will start on Saturday.

For more about lat injuries in baseball, refer to this previous column.

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