What was left to say? After witnessing a pair of all too familiar elbow injuries suffered by his brightest young pitching stars, Braves general manager Frank Wren looked exasperated. For Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy — each mulling a second Tommy John surgery before the age of 30 — it was too late for explanations. Even if someone could give them one. Is this how it’s going to be from now on? Will throwing a pitch be like baseball’s version of Russian roulette — every windup another chamber clicking, with luck the only protection against catastrophe? That’s what it has felt like the past few weeks, with Medlen and Beachy joining others such as the A’s Jarrod Parker, the Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin and the Royals’ Luke Hochevar on the growing list as candidates for Tommy John surgery — some for the second time.
“It’s absolutely crushing,” Wren said. “On a professional level, and on a personal level, when you know how much these guys have put into it, how much they care, how much they mean to our team. To see a guy walk off the mound and know that he’s likely facing a season-ending surgery, it’s devastating. And it just makes you sick to your stomach.”By the time that elbow ligament does snap, as it has with alarming frequency for a number of pitchers this month, the first question becomes why. But for those fortunate enough to avoid ligament-replacement surgery, famously named after its first patient, 288-game winner Tommy John, many tend to ask: Why not them?
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