Gibson to Avoid Tommy John Surgery… for now

10 Aug

The Twins announced on Tuesday that top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson has a … let me get this right… flexor pronator muscle strain of the right elbow and a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament… uffdah… and will, at least for now, avoid Tommy John surgery. Instead, he will head down to Ft. Myers and rehab.

This is obviously not exactly great news for the Minnesota Twins as the very talented right hander will be shut down for the rest of this season. The only cure for a torn ligament is Tommy John surgery, but the Twins are going to attempt the rest and rehab thing again. If you recall, that is what they did with Francisco Liriano in 2006 and Pat Neshek in 2007. If Gibson had Tommy John surgery now, he would likely miss all of the 2012 season. If Gibson has Tommy John surgery in October or November, he would miss all of the 2012 season. According to Phil Mackey (Via Twitter) of 1500espn, Braves pitchers Mike Minor and Arodys Vizcaino have successful rehabbed from partial UCL tears and remain great prospects. Both have  been recalled to the Braves in the last week, with the 20-year-old Vizcaino just recalled late last night.

When the Twins drafted Gibson with the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 draft, they were thrilled. Because of some forearm issues, which Gibson was very forthright about, he slipped to the Twins. There was some concern at the time about the injury. However, after signing late in 2009, he made his pro debut in 2010. He scurried through the minor leagues, starting at Ft. Myers before moving up to New Britain and finally to Triple A Rochester where he made three starts before being shut down. In 2011, he returned to Rochester after impressing manager Ron Gardenhire in spring training. He was one of my Top 3 Twins minor league starting pitchers for both April and May. However, he struggled some in June and after pitching in the Futures Game in Arizona, he had just one second half start, and it went really poorly. Uncharacteristically, he walked five batters. Concern for the elbow was immediate. The team shut Gibson down, hoping that it was just inflammation and missing a start or two would help. It just wasn’t recovering as quickly as he had hoped. That’s why he flew to Minneapolis on Sunday night. That’s why he had an MRI on Monday, and went through more testing on Tuesday.

The top pick in that 2009 draft, Steven Strasburg got to the big leagues early in 2010, but was shut down and required Tommy John surgery which he had last September. On Sunday, he made his first rehab appearance and went 1.2 innings. That is a very aggressive timeline. Recovery from Tommy John surgery is generally 12-17 months. If Gibson has his surgery this month, he could be ready next August or September, but most likely (and wisely), the Twins would wait until spring training of 2013 to have him come back. At that point, he will still be just 25 years old and have plenty of time for a comeback. Obviously there is no cookie cutter return from Tommy John surgery, but there are so many examples of pitchers who have come back and been just as successful that there is no reason for pessimism.

But again, first and foremost, best wishes go out to Kyle Gibson and his family. I’m sure this would be a very nerve-wracking moment, but he is very strong and strong in his faith.  FEWDY, right Kyle?!

I asked Gibson if he cared to join me for a bit on last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. He politely declined saying that he “doesn’t have too many answers right now.” He did say that in the near future he would join a podcast again and we can talk through some of this with him.

The news was a little better for fellow Twins minor league pitcher Anthony Slama who was diagnosed with a flexor pronator muscle strain in his right elbow, as well. He will also be heading back to Ft. Myers to rehab the elbow area. I like to think that, if healthy, Slama could have played a big role in the Twins bullpen in 2011, although the Twins have never really given him that opportunity.

Miracle shortstop Estarlin de Los Santos was put on the Disabled List yesterday and traveled to Minnesota where he will be having Tommy John surgery. I had heard that last week, but he kept playing 2B throughout the weekend.  

Miracle pitcher Brad Stillings is in Minnesota where he will have shoulder surgery

It has been a very difficult year on the injury front of the Twins and throughout their minor league system. Jeff Manship is on the DL with a rib injury. New Britain reliever Tony Davis had his elbow scoped. Michael Tarsi has been out quite awhile now. Miracle outfielders Oswaldo Arcia and Angel Morales also had their elbows scoped. I heard that Miracle starter Miguel Munoz had bone chips removed from his elbow. Jhon Garcia is on the Disabled List now. Dan Osterbrock has missed most of this season with a shoulder injury. Ben Tootle was just put on the disabled list. Matt Bashore hasn’t pitched since July 24. 2010 draft pick Dallas Gallant had Tommy John surgery earlier this spring. Of course, no injury has been as serious as that of Paul Bargas, who was diagnose with brain cancer in April. He continues to be at home in California.

When it rains, apparently it pours.

BLOG SPOTTING

Let’s take a quick look around the Twins blogosphere and see what people are saying:

MINOR LEAGUE HIGHLIGHTS FROM TUESDAY

Rochester lost to Durham 10-6. Justin Morneau went 3-5 with two doubles. He now is 8-14 in his last three games after going 1-8 in his first two games with the Red Wings. (yes, I would say he is rather close!) Luke Hughes went 2-5 including a first inning home run, his third for the Red Wings this year. Dustin Martin went 3-5 with his fourth triple. Brian Dinkelman was 2-3. Scott Diamond started and was roughed up again. The lefty gave up eight runs (6 earned) on eight hits and a walk. In four innings, he struck out five. Kyle Waldrop gave up a run on three hits in two innings. Dusty Hughes struck out two in a scoreless inning. Jim Hoey gave up a solo home run in the 8th.

Tom Stuifbergen picked up his fifth win of the season with seven strong innings. He gave up three runs on eight hits. He walked none and struck out five. Bruce Pugh struck out two in two scoreless innings for his 13th Miracle save as Ft. Myers beat Bradenton 6-3. Oswaldo Arcia was 3-5 with his 9th and 10th doubles, and his fifth home run. Angel Morales and Dan Rohlfing were each 2-4. James Beresford was 2-5. Aaron Hicks was 0-2 but he walked three times. Josmil Pinto followed up Arcia’s home run with his fourth homer of the year.

The Snappers split a double header with Quad Cities on Tuesday. In the first game, Beloit won 12-6. AJ Achter gave up six runs (5 earned) on nine hits and two walks in just three innings. Bart Carter came in and gave up two hits and a walk but no runs in two scoreless innings. He struck out two. Jose Gonzalez gave up two hits and a walk in his two scoreless innings. Lance Ray led the offense. He went 3-4 with his 13th home run. Daniel Ortiz was 2-3 with his 30th double. Jairo Perez was 1-3 with a walk and his 12th homer. Andy Leer knocked a grand slam for the Snappers, his second homer of the season.

The Snappers lost the second game 6-5. Pedro Guerra made his first Snappers start of the year. He went four innings and gave up six runs on six hits (2 homers). He walked three and struck out six. Sam Spangler came in and gave up just one hit over three scoreless innings. On offense, Tyler Grimes went 2-3 with his second homer. Lance Ray added his 32nd double.

Elizabethton got a two-run, pinch-hit double from Eddie Rosario in the top of the 9th to tie the score at two. In the 10th, Kennys Vargas knocked his sixth home run of the season to give the E-Twins a 3-2 win over Danville. Max Kepler was 2-5 with his ninth double. Niko Goodrum went 2-2 with three walks. David Hurlbut started and gave up two runs on six hits and a walk in six innings. Cole Johnson threw two scoreless innings. Steve Evans picked up the win with a scoreless frame, and Matt Summers recorded his fourth save with a perfect tenth.

The New Britain/Altoona game and the GCL Twins/GCL Rays game were both postponed by rain.

By the way, LaVelle E. Neal tweeted last night that he will be posting his new Top 10 Twins Prospect list, with numbers 6-10 posted today and 1-5 posted on Thursday. Check out the Twins Insider blog throughout the day to see how it compares to my most recent Top 10 list from August 1. (Oswaldo Arcia, Liam Hendriks, Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson, Miguel Sano, Joe Benson, Adrian Salcedo, Eddie Rosario, Angel Morales, Chris Parmelee).

Feel free to E-mail me, or leave some Comments.

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One Response to “Gibson to Avoid Tommy John Surgery… for now”

  1. gobbledy August 10, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    i am willing to let the medical professionals decide the best course of action and not rely on the opinions of the average blogger. that is not to imply that seth is an average blogger i consider him 3-4 blogs above replacement! does anyone know if there is a site wih BAR stats?

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