Between last night's embarrassing game against the worst-in-MLB Phillies, and this morning's news about Drew Smyly's torn UCL and impending Tommy John surgery, things are not looking bright in Mariner world. The team had been on a hot streak, reviving playoff hopes and rewarding fans' good faith, but all those good vibes have come to a screeching halt today. They've not fully imploded, they're only a game under .500 (again), but it's admittedly difficult to be optimistic with crummy news and crummy play. But hey, there's another game today and, if it goes well, that could at least serve as the lollipop after the shot at the doctor's office.
Anyway, I know nobody reads these paragraphs before the lineup, but while I'm scribbling this nonsense I'd like to weigh in about Drew Smyly and the WBC. Let's set something straight here: the WBC did not send Smyly to the DL, it did not cause him to tear his UCL, and it did not lead to him having Tommy John surgery. Ligaments are responsible for controlling movement, and holding bones together, and the UCL specifically connects the humerus (part of the upper arm) to the ulna (part of the lower arm), and there are three bands (anterior, posterior, and transverse) that function as the connectors. It's something that an everyday human likely doesn't consider very often, if at all, but it's arguably one of the most critical pieces of anatomy for a pitcher. UCL tears are caused by repeated stress on those ligaments, and pitching/throwing is one such "unnatural" movement that most commonly will lead to a tear. In some cases a person will experience a pop, and sharp pain after a single throw, which makes them unable to throw anymore, but in plenty of other cases the only symptoms are pain in the elbow, and a tingling/numbness in the pinky/ring fingers (because that is the side of the arm where the UCL is located). Because Smyly did not suddenly leave the WBC clutching his arm, we can safely assume his symptoms were of the latter variety. Ligaments are strong, and UCL tears only occur after prolonged and repeated stress on the UCL, which is why the WBC is not to blame for this injury. If Smyly had not pitched in the WBC it is reasonable to assume that he would have only made a handful of starts for the Mariners before being shut down, regardless.
Another thing that's important to note that surgery is not the only option to combat this injury. Rest, ice, and lots of anti-inflammatory medications, coupled with physical therapy, is what is typically prescribed for those who do not wish to have surgery. I am not privy to the inner workings of the Mariners' medical staff, but I would hazard a guess that this is what they have been working on for the last few months. Was it a bad decision for them to wait, and try non-surgical alternatives, rather than simply getting it over with? Perhaps, but it's also fair to acknowledge that Drew Smyly may be "owned" by the Mariners, but that his body is still very much his. It's not unusual for players to balk at the prospect of surgery, particularly Tommy John surgery, which has such a long and arduous recovery process, and I wouldn't be surprised if Smyly wanted to try other viable alternatives before going under the knife, especially because he has already had a number of surgeries in his lifetime. He'll be out through much of the 2018 season, and there's a high likelihood that Drew Smyly never pitches in a major league game for this team. The news is a huge loss for the Mariners, and a huge loss for Smyly himself.
|PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES||SEATTLE MARINERS|
|Daniel Nava - LF||Jean Segura - SS|
|Freddy Galvis - SS||Ben Gamel - LF|
|Aaron Altherr - RF||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Tommy Joseph - DH||Nelson Cruz - DH|
|Odubel Herrera - CF||Kyle Seager - 3B|
|Maikel Franco - 3B||Mitch Haniger - RF|
|Brock Stassi - 1B||Danny Valencia - 1B|
|Andrew Knapp - C||Jarrod Dyson - CF|
|Ty Kelly - 2B||Mike Zunino - C|
|Mark Leiter - RHP||Felix Hernandez - RHP|