Saturday, March 1, 2014

Miguel Sano to have Tommy John surgery; Ligaments suck

Ligaments are stupid.  The 12 people who follow me on Twitter already know that I feel this way.  It's childish perhaps and it certainly ignores their important function in the human body, but I don't care; ligaments suck.  A report came out this morning that super prospect and ultimate swagger-haver Miguel Sano needs Tommy John surgery, a surgery performed to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in an elbow.  In this case, it's the right elbow of one of the more exciting prospects in recent Twins history. 

As I said, ligaments are stupid. 

Why can't they just be cool and stop fraying and ripping and tearing?  For Sano, this means that he will almost certainly miss the entire season, a season that many felt would include his MLB debut.  I had just written about Sano on Thursday and I listed him as the Twins' 5th most important player in 2014.  I felt this way because of his massive power potential and the fact that he was nearly MLB-ready.  Well, number 5 went down before the second Spring Training game.  We're off to a great start in 2014, Twins fans!

By the way, you can still read that post.  Just replace all the 2014s with 2015s and add a sentence about Tommy John recovery.  It's basically all the same, as this surgery shouldn't change anything I wrote, just his timeline.  You'll be fine.  Eat some breakfast, it's early.  

Wallowing aside, this isn't a huge deal in the long run.  Sano will be just 21 in May and will resume his career just one year later.  This shouldn't affect his power, it shouldn't affect his ability to hit and it shouldn't even affect his arm, should he make a full recovery.  Basically, the Twins lose Sano for a year and Twins' fans lose what could have been one of the biggest events of the Twins' 2014 season - Sano's MLB debut.  

In some ways, the Twins were lucky with the timing, since Sano will miss this season prior to being added to the active roster.  Basically, they will get to keep his entire pre-free agency career, instead of losing a full season of team control (Francisco Liriano, for example).  In addition, they found out early in the season and Sano can have his surgery soon and be ready in time for Spring Training in 2015.  There's also no reason to believe that the Twins can't rely on Sano for 2015 in the same way they had planned for 2014.  Although it does put in doubt his ability to make the 2015 Opening Day roster, seemingly a lock prior to this surgery. 

Of course, if he had surgery back in November, he'd be four months into recovery...

Therefore, I'm sure we'll see a lot of smarmy quotes about the Twins' medical staff and how inept they are.  I have to say, I can't blame them in this instance.  This whole elbow fracas started in November, when Sano was shut down while playing in the Arizona Fall League.  At that time, he was diagnosed with just an elbow strain and that diagnosis was confirmed by renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews.  If Dr. Andrews doesn't suggest surgery, you know that a guy doesn't need surgery.  You could be shopping at the same mall as Dr. Andrews, turn your back for just one second, and BANG, your ACL  has been repaired.  I've seen it a hundred times. 

Then, Mike Berardino reported in January that Sano was confident that he didn't need surgery.  Sano said that his elbow felt pretty good and that he was throwing again.  There was no reason to sound the alarm.  Well, January optimism has officially given way to February and March sadness.  Sano barely started Spring Training before being shut down with elbow soreness.  He had an MRI yesterday and today he's gone for a year.  Although, if he recovers quickly, he might be able to play some Winter ball.  Who knows at this point, it all depends on how his surgery and recovery goes. 

Yesterday, I preached overreaction.  Today, I want everyone to chill.  Sano will miss all of 2014 and that's a huge bummer.  However, he's still the same prospect he was earlier this week and he should resume what could be a monster career in fewer than 365 days.  That's just a shade over 31 million seconds, so start counting if that makes you feel better!  You can complain about the Twins' medical staff, but I don't think they can save a ligament that is hell-bent on tearing.  You can be upset that the Twins season is ruined, but that's just not true.  Basically, Sano will be out of our lives for a year, but then he'll be back, just as smiley and promising as before (with a shiny replacement ligament that we can name and use as a mascot, if we want to). 

Ligaments suck, but what can you do?  I hope that Sano's surgery and recovery go well and that he'll be ready to hit some dingers in 2015.


As it happens, here's a tweet from Twins' reporter Rhett Bollinger:
That sucks.  I'm guessing this will not be in the Twins' medical staff's favor.  I still don't blame them.

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