Bronson Arroyo tried to 'gut through' elbow injury before Tommy John surgery

Mike Oz
July 8, 2014
Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies
DENVER, CO - JUNE 5: Starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo #61 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers to home plate during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 5, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Fifty-nine players in the major and minor leagues have had Tommy John surgery since February and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Bronson Arroyo wasn't trying to be No. 60.

Arroyo, 37, says he tried to "gut through" a torn ulnar collateral ligament, the injury that causes baseball players to succumb to Tommy John surgery. Arroyo says he made six starts with a full UCL tear, but knew he couldn't do it any longer. So he announced Monday that he would, in fact, be No. 60 and have elbow surgery.

This is a guy who had never been on the disabled list in his 15-year MLB career before mid-June, when right elbow tendinitis put him there. You have to respect his resolve.

Arroyo told reporters, including Tyler Lockman of Fox Sports Arizona:

"I was going to see if I could ride it without the ligament," Arroyo said. "If this was the last year of my career, I could gut through it with anti-inflammatories and different things and it would be tough. But if I want to play after this year, it’s going to be impossible.

"I don't want to be 40 years old and possibly be a free agent and not have a ligament. I don't think anyone's going to want to sign me then."

Trying to pitch through the elbow ligament tear is what makes Arroyo's case unusual. Some guys attempt to pitch through partial tears, but often need surgery later anyway. And even when they pitch, it's not necessarily game action. When players have a full tear, they're shut down right then and there, end of story.

So Arroyo making six starts with a full UCL tear is kind of nuts — even more nuts, he went 3-1 with a 3.45 ERA in the last five of those starts, his best run of 2014. Otherwise, he has a 7-4 record with a 4.08 ERA.

The D-backs (38-53) have pretty much tossed in the towel for 2014, so losing Arroyo doesn't hurt their season too much. Though, they are paying him $23.5 million for this season and next and he'll end up missing half of that time. He joins quite the list of Tommy John patients in Arizona: ace Patrick Corbin, relievers David Hernandez and Matt Reynolds plus starter Daniel Hudson, who had the surgery in 2012 and 2013.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!