The amount of success many pitchers have enjoyed following ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, which is more famously known as Tommy John surgery, over the past 10-15 years is pretty remarkable when you think about it.
Unfortunately, though, as routine as the operation has seemingly become thanks to the improved knowledge of the injury and consistently brilliant work of doctors such as the late Dr. Lewis Yocum and Dr. James Andrews, it’s not a universally successful operation. There are still cases where the injury simply doesn't heal as it should, or the athletes — most frequently pitchers — are unable to regain their previous form.
We were served a sobering reminder of that fact on Friday when several sources, including Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan, reported that Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Daniel Hudson had suffered a re-tear of his right UCL.
Hudson suffered his original tear on June 26, 2012 — a moment he'll always be reminded of — and underwent Tommy John surgery performed by Dr. Yocum in July. It's typically an injury with a 12 month timetable attached to it, so Hudson was about six weeks ahead of schedule when he returned for his first rehab start on Tuesday. According to Passan, all signs were very encouraging for Hudson early. In fact, he was reportedly hitting 95 mph on the radar in the first inning and impressing scouts in attendance.
However, when Hudson took the mound for his second inning, he felt his arm tighten up. He was immediately removed and re-examined, with the unfortunate result being the reported UCL tear.
It's a devastating blow for the 26-year-old and you can't help but feel for him. A 16-game winner with a solid 3.49 ERA in his first full season of 2011, he was clearly on track to becoming a mainstay in the Diamondbacks stacked starting rotation and a possible perennial all-star candidate. He also won a the Sliver Slugger in 2011 to give you an idea of his all-around talent.
Now, at 26, with a the likelihood of a second Tommy John surgery looming, there's a real possibility Hudson's career will be cut short before it ever had a chance to blossom.
If there is a silver lining, though, it would have to be the positive attitude Hudson is approaching his setback with.
Adversity is a fact of life. It can’t be controlled. What we can control is how we react to it. Fall down seven times, stand up eight
— Daniel Hudson (@DHuddy41) June 7, 2013
Such an injury can take just as much of a toll mentally as it can physically. However, in Hudson's case, it appears he has a pretty good handle on the former.
For more information on Hudson's injury, where he intends to go for his second operation, and the history of pitchers recovering from multiple Tommy John surgeries I direct you to to Jeff Passan's column from Friday afternoon. It's an informative piece and a very highly recommended read.