Who's recovering from Tommy John?
It's no secret that Tommy John surgery (ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction) has become commonplace among pitchers. The unnatural motion of throwing a baseball takes a toll on any pitcher's arm over time, with the most common breakdown occurring at the shoulder or the elbow. Although shoulder surgeries among baseball players generally are complex and highly variable in terms of a successful return to play, surgeries at the elbow tend to be more straightforward and often yield a good result. In particular, Tommy John surgery has become almost routine in terms of the subsequent rehab program and timeline, with most pitchers able to return to competition within 12 to 18 months, sometimes sooner.
Play Fantasy Baseball
You lose 100 percent of the leagues you don't join.
Play For Free on ESPN.com »
A pitcher's effectiveness immediately upon his return to the mound post-Tommy John surgery can be less predictable, though, as some initially struggle with command. Nonetheless, most pitchers are projected to return to the mound around the one-year anniversary of their surgery date. The occasional position player who undergoes the procedure can often return in less time, given that the throwing demands on the arm are less. Although the timeline remains fluid to allow for individual fluctuations throughout the rehab process, the overall success of Tommy John surgery is fairly remarkable, especially considering the first subject -- Tommy John himself -- underwent the groundbreaking procedure just more than 30 years ago.
Given the prevalence of Tommy John surgery, we decided to take a look at who is on the recovery radar this season and when those players are expected to return. MLBdepthcharts.com compiled an in-depth list of major and minor league players who have recently undergone Tommy John surgery. Using their list as the foundation, what follows is a mini-update on where those players stand heading into the 2012 season.
Players on major league rosters
Zack Cozart, SS, Cincinnati Reds (Aug. 12, 2011; on left non-throwing elbow following hyperextension injury from a collision in late July): He is playing in spring training games and is expected to be ready by Opening Day.
David Aardsma, P, New York Yankees (July 22, 2011): He also missed all of 2011 after having surgery to address a labral tear in hip, so return to form may take longer as a result, but he hopes to be available in the second half of the season.
Joba Chamberlain, P, New York Yankees (June 10, 2011): He has started to throw bullpens; hopes to return midseason (just before All-Star break).
Rich Hill, P, Boston Red Sox (June 9, 2011): He's not scheduled to throw in a game this spring but may begin doing so in May.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, P, Boston Red Sox (June 2, 2011): He's throwing bullpen sessions, but manager Bobby Valentine has already said that Matsuzaka will not pitch in a game this spring. He could be ready to return around the All-Star break.
Mason Tobin, P, Texas Rangers (June 1, 2011): Tobin is one of the outliers who has had to undergo a second procedure (he missed all of 2010 after Tommy John surgery), which bodes worse for his future; expect his recovery to proceed cautiously.
Adam Wainwright, P, St. Louis Cardinals (Feb. 28, 2011): He hopes to be ready as early as Opening Day, but his schedule depends how he progresses during spring training. His first spring game is scheduled for Friday.
Jamie Moyer, P, Colorado Rockies (Dec. 1, 2010): He's throwing bullpens and hopes to earn a spot in the rotation. However, he will be 50 in November.
Hector Ambriz, P, Cleveland Indians (Sept. 30, 2010): He's now in the minor leagues.
Manny Corpas, P, Colorado Rockies (Sept. 7, 2010): He had signed with Cubs but was then outrighted off the roster.
Ben Sheets, P, Oakland Athletics (Aug. 9, 2010): He also underwent flexor tendon repair and pronator repair. He has an extended length of recovery, given the complexity of procedure. It's unclear whether he will be able to return to pitching.
Players on minor league rosters
Kyle Gibson, P, Minnesota Twins (Sept. 7, 2011): Expected to "pitch this summer," according to GM Terry Ryan. Based on the date of his surgery, Gibson's return this season not a lock.
Jose Casilla, P, free agent after being released by San Francisco Giants (July 2011): He should be recovered and able to return to pitching by July 2012.
Carlos Monasterios, P, Los Angeles Dodgers (July 2011): Should be able to return by July 2012.
John Lamb, P, Kansas City Royals (June 2011): He could return in the second half of the season.
Drew Naylor, P, Philadelphia Phillies (June 2011): He hopes to return in the second half of 2012.
Cam Bedrosian, P, Los Angeles Angels (May 2011): He could return in the second half of 2012.
Stephen Marek, P, Toronto Blue Jays (May 2011): He should be able to contribute by May or June.
Boof Bonser, P, San Francisco Giants (April 2011): He's expected to return around May or June.
Matt Gorgen, P, Arizona Diamondbacks (March 2011): He missed all of the 2011 season but should be able to participate for the bulk of 2012.
Stephania Bell is a physical therapist who is a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She is a clinician, author and teacher with extensive experience in the area of orthopedic manual therapy and sports medicine.
FANTASY TOP HEADLINES
- Matthew Berry's fantasy football top 200 for Week 13
- Karabell: 2014 rankings update
- Harris: Week 13 free-agent finds
- Cockcroft: The 'December performer' myth
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
2012 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit
2012 Projections and Profiles
• Top 300 | AL-only | NL-only
• Points Leagues | Cheat sheets
• Custom roto dollar value generator
• Fantasy Draft Engine
• Catcher: Rankings | Preview
• First Base: Rankings | Preview
• Second Base: Rankings | Preview
• Third Base: Rankings | Preview
• Shortstop: Rankings | Preview
• Outfield: Rankings | Preview
• Designated Hitter: Rankings
• Starting Pitcher: Rankings | Preview
• Relief Pitcher: Rankings | Preview
• Tristan H. Cockcroft's Top 250 keepers
Talented Mr. Roto
• Bold predictions for the season
• Berry's Guys I Love, Guys I Hate
• Matthew Berry's Top 250 Rankings
• Matthew Berry's Draft-Day Manifesto
• Berry's "100 Facts to know" for 2012
• Mock Draft with 11 Average Joes
• Position battle winners, losers
• ADP reveals drafting trends
• Staff sleeper and bust picks
• Tristan's Twenty: Cockcroft's 2012 targets
• Bleagh! The guys Tristan doesn't like for 2012
• Cockcroft's 'perfect' draft
• The components of ERA
• Understanding the BABIP statistic
• Cockcroft's "Kings of Command"
• Which teams got worse defensively?
• Spring watch list
• 2013 free agents to be, by position
• 'Mulligan' ERAs: The impact of awful starts
• Dissecting wins for pitchers
• Why negative BA can be overrated
• Notable offseason moves | All moves
• 30 Questions archive
• Goldstein: Top 50 prospects | 51-100
• Eric Karabell: Top 100 | Five prospects
• Karabell: My 2012 "Do Not Draft" list
• Karabell: Bold stat predictions
• Karabell: Steals sleepers
• Karabell: Bounce-back sleepers for 2012
• Keith Law: Top 100 prospects for 2012
• Dan Szymborski: MLB's best sophomores
• Szymborski: Nine make-or-break players
• Szymborski: Breakout hitters | Pitchers
• Dave Cameron: Spring stats that matter
• Todd Zola: Players with new home parks
• Todd Zola: 10 surprising park factors
• Todd Zola: Advanced auction strategy • Todd Zola: Head-to-head points strategy
• Matt Wieters could be the No. 1 catcher
• Dee Gordon's steals upside
• Is Alex Rodriguez "washed up?"
• When should you draft your first closer?
• Is Derek Jeter still a top-10 shortstop?
• Can you trust Brian Wilson?
• What to expect from Dan Uggla in 2012
• Just how good is Desmond Jennings?
• Will Jason Motte be a reliable closer?
• What is Starlin Castro's upside?