The simplest alternative to Tommy John surgery may also be the most difficult, but Casselton (N.D.) Central Cass High junior right-handed pitcher Sierra Amundson is sure making it look easy.
In August, doctors determined Amundson's right elbow had suffered enough ligament damage to require surgery and the ensuing year-long rehab, according to the Fargo-Moorhead Forum. That was devastating for a pitcher coming off an All-State sophomore campaign in which she finished 8-0 with a 1.61 ERA.
As a result, Amundson reportedly spent the next eight months transforming herself into a southpaw. Yup, according to the Forum, the once dominant right-hander is now a left-handed pitcher on the Squirrels staff.
“It is hard for me sit and watch when I want to play so bad,” Amundson told the local news outlet. “So I told myself, ‘I’ll just switch hands. It can’t be that hard.’ Then you try it and you really find out how difficult it is. … I kept going with it and practiced as often as I could.
“I had to find a way to play,” she added. “I was going to find a way into the lineup no matter what.”
While Amundson may not be the ace Central Cass expected, coach Scott Kost plans to use her as both a starter and a reliever. Meanwhile, Amundson has reportedly rehabbed her right elbow enough to throw 30 pitches at a time with her dominant arm, and that number could increase as the season progresses. In other words, Kost can use his new weapon as both a righty and lefty reliever, which could be vital in a North Dakota spring season that is often condensed to a few weeks due to the weather.
“I am surprised, but having said that I really shouldn’t be surprised,” Kost told the Forum. “Sierra is a remarkable kid and works so hard. Like anyone else would, she has struggled with the mechanics of (throwing left-handed) and struggled getting the ball in the strike zone, but she has kept working at. She doesn’t give up, and I’m very confident she will throw some innings for us this season left-handed.”
Since the surgery became synonymous with Tommy John, perhaps the alternative should be dubbed an Amundson. As in, "Why didn't Stephen Strasburg just pull an Amundson?"
(h/t USA TODAY)