Schilling On Pineda, Learning About Labrum Injuries

March 20, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) in the dugout after he pitched the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE


It's a slow baseball day, and most people have been focused on the Rangers, Devils, or NFL Draft this evening. The Michael Pineda diagnosis has been covered here, and around the web, excessively since the news broke.

On the positive side of things, Curt Schilling (a labrum surgery success story), believes Michael Pineda can return even sooner than the 12 month timetable that was placed on his recovery yesterday. Here are a few interesting quotes from the piece over at ESPN:

"He can be back better than he has ever been in 10 months," said Schilling, now an ESPN baseball analyst. "Maybe less, because he is younger. It is going to be 100 percent on him."
"I was really surprised to see the 12-month-out thing," said Schilling, who suffered a superior labral tear in 1995.
"I came back after my surgery, throwing four to six miles harder than I did before," he said. "That is where the magic is. It is all about rehab. Most doctors can make you 100 percent well physically. I would tell you that it is 25 percent about the surgery and 75 percent about the rehab."

More after the jump...

ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell adds an equally encouraging quote in the body of the piece:

"If you want to paint the silver lining on this, it is, yeah, he is going to have supervised rehab and conditioning that will help protect his arm as his arm comes back over the course of a year," Bell said.

The good news here is Pineda's rotator cuff is fine, and we only have the labrum recovery to worry about. Still, that is a huge concern, especially when looking at the spotty track record of pitchers coming back from similar injuries. For every Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Chris Carpenter, Ted Lilly, and Anibal Sanchez success story, there are double or triple the amount of Wade Miller, Jason Schmidt, Brandon Webb, Mike Sirotka, and Matt Clement failures. While the injuries these pitchers suffered differ from one another, the fact is, successful recovery from labrum surgery is still far from a sure thing.

If you're looking for some further reading on labrum injuries, here are a few interesting things I've dug up since the Pineda news broke:

The dreaded labrum: Five case studies

Labrum, It Nearly Killed Him

For pitchers, shoulder surgery cuts both ways

Some of this reading led me to a great article on Dr. James Andrews, a cutting edge name in the world of sports orthopedics. In that piece, Andrews lends some insight into his field, and the unknown surrounding the labrum:

Andrews might not possess a lower gear. He appears locked in overdrive, still pushing himself -- and everyone in his vast sphere of influence -- to advance the state of the art in sports medicine.

That's sure what it sounded like in his speech at his "Injuries In Baseball" course this past January in Birmingham. Titled "What I have learned about the shoulder in the past 30 years," it could have been a paean to himself. Instead, it was a call to arms.

For all the advances of the past three decades, he told the 400 attendees, there were still injuries that seemed to defy repair.

"Do we have the answer to labral tears?" he asked. "No, a large percentage of these still don't heal. I think we have a long way to go."

Finally, if you're really hardcore, I came across this fascinating thesis paper by Jonathan Koscso, a University of South Florida sports medicine student, titled 'The SLAP Tear: A Modern Baseball Focus'. I was fascinated by this 40 page document, and I highly recommend the read for anyone wanting to learn more about labrum injuries, how they related to pitching mechanics, treatments, and a few interesting studies.

It's going to be a while before we know what kind of career Michael Pineda will have in pinstripes, and there are reasons for pessimism and optimism. All we can do now is hope for a successful surgery and fast recovery for the big right-hander.

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