Atlanta Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy may be headed toward his second Tommy John surgery in 21 months, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Friday.
Red flags originally went up during Beachy's abbreviated Grapefruit League outing against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday. His fastball was noticeably lacking in velocity, topping out around 87-88 mph. The team later revealed he was dealing with tightness in his right biceps, but Beachy quickly dismissed it as nothing more than common inflammation following an arthroscopic procedure in September to remove a bone chip from his elbow.
“I’ve seen the doctors. They’ve done everything. My ligament’s fine,” Beachy told reporters following Monday's game.
Despite Beachy's confidence, he was sent off to Orlando to undergo further testing. It was there that a possible new ligament tear was spotted, but a follow up exam with Dr. James Andrews will be required on Monday as the MRI for players who have already undergone Tommy John tend to be “cloudy” around the repaired area and difficult to read.
A stress X-ray taken in Orlando also showed apparent ligament damage, so indications are the news won't be good.
“I was pretty confident when I talked to you guys after the game on Monday,” Beachy said. “That was based on what I was told. I was being honest. Now it looks like it might be something else. So it’s frustrating. Very frustrating.”
Frustrating is the word of the week around Braves camp, as Beachy isn't their only starter facing surgery. He'll be joined at Dr. Andrews' office by Kris Medlen, who's also awaiting official word on whether or not he will require a second Tommy John operation. According to O'Brien, both players have undergone all of the same tests so far with the same results, so an already bad week for the Braves may soon fall under the category of a disaster.
O'Brien also notes that Andrews performed the original Tommy John surgery on both pitchers. Medlen's operation came in 2010, while Beachy went under the knife in June 2012. Andrews is recognized as one of the top surgeons in his field, so this serves as a reminder that while Tommy John surgery has certainly saved and extended careers and provides hope, it's far from perfect and not every pitcher reacts and recovers the same way. That's the unfortunate truth after one surgery, and especially so after a second surgery.
Nothing is guaranteed.
To help make up for the losses in the short-term, the Braves signed Ervin Santana to a one-year, $14.1 million contract on Wednesday. He'll join Julio Teheran, Freddy Garcia, Alex Wood and David Hale as the healthiest options in Atlanta's starting rotation. Left-hander Mike Minor is currently behind schedule following urinary-tract surgery in January. He also reported shoulder soreness during the first week of camp.
The "A" logo on the Braves hat will also stand for adversity this season. Their outlook doesn't look as positive as it did just six days ago, but sometimes that adversity can serve as a motivator and a rallying point. The Braves will have to hope that's the case for them, because a repeat in the NL East wasn't going to be easy to begin with.
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