Jamie Moyer set to become baseball's oldest Tommy John patient

Most pitchers would probably have called it a career by now. Perhaps after turning 35. Or 40.

Or maybe at the age of 45, after being demoted to the bullpen two years ago.

A rational human being almost certainly would've decided it's time to stop throwing a baseball after straining a ligament and tendon in his left elbow last July.

Without a doubt, any mortal man would surely have chosen to move on to another phase of his life after going on to blow out that same elbow while pitching winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

But Jamie Moyer(notes) is no mortal man, no normal pitcher. His left elbow can be rebuilt. Doctors have the technology. So Moyer is undergoing Tommy John surgery on Wednesday.

And after the required recovery and rehab, he intends to come back and play again in 2012.

Or as Moyer and his wife put it on The Moyer Foundation's Facebook page Monday:

"We are cautiously optimistic superman will make a comeback!"

Moyer just turned 48 on Nov. 17 and will be 49 years old when he enters spring training that year. In his defense, we do believe that Superman was still fighting bad guys around the age of 50. So the reference has some merit.

But it's not going to be easy to keep fighting off the Father Time's kryptonite.

Only three other pitchers in baseball history played at age 49 or older: Hoyt Wilhelm, Jack Quinn and Satchel Paige. And they combined to throw 44 innings. (Paige actually pitched three innings for the Kansas City Athletics when he was 58. So Moyer still has a goal to chase for at least another decade.)

As David Murphy(notes) of the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, only one pitcher has returned from Tommy John surgery in his 40s to pitch again in the majors. John Franco underwent the procedure when he was 42. He came back to pitch three more seasons, but worked only 95 innings and wasn't very successful those last two years.

Before injuring his elbow last season, Moyer rebounded from his bullpen demotion to make 19 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies. He finished with a 9-9 record and 4.84 ERA, pitching 111 2/3 innings.

Yet after 24 major league seasons, more than 4,000 innings, a World Series championship in 2008 and approximately $82 million of salary, what is left for Moyer to accomplish? Does he want 300 wins? At 267, that milestone is likely unreachable.

The funny answer is that the man must really want to get away from his family every summer. The real one is that he must really just like throwing a baseball.

Long may he pitch.

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