When pitchers are returning from major elbow surgery, particularly Tommy John, the best advise that is given is to trust in the process and don’t rush it.
When it came to Homer Bailey, this advice was ignored at best.
Part of what makes Bailey good is the chip on his shoulder and the stubbornness that he plays with. However, when it comes to a major injury, these are not good qualities to showcase.
The pitchers that tend to hit more roadblocks and deal with more secondary injuries are the ones that ramp it back up too fast. Sometimes, even leading to a failed surgery and a repeat of the entire process. Clearly, Bailey is not there yet, but it may be time to take a step back and just enjoy the progress that was made over the past year.
To no surprise, Bailey has seen a huge dip in his fastball of late and complained of bicep “tenderness” after his last start.
While it is good news that he said that the elbow feels good, Bailey still had an average velocity of just over 90 miles per hour in that last start. When he was successful this season, that velocity was in the 93-94 range, touching 95. His top fastball in his last start was at just 93. Prior to the injury, there were games that Bailey was averaging 95 MPH on the pitch.
Bailey underwent the surgery in May of 2015 and certainly rushed the 12 to 18 month time table for a return to throwing activities. In fact, Bailey was back throwing in Double-A rehab games almost exactly a year after the injury.
Also, to no surprise, Bailey was shut down soon after that with elbow soreness. The hope was to escalate the time frame to make it to the least amount and eventually it cost Bailey.
Now that Bailey is dealing with an arm issue again, when is enough going to be enough on a 2016 season that means nothing ultimately? Additionally, the nearly $90 million that the Reds could still owe Bailey has to come into play.
This season is no doubt about the future. Why rush Bailey into another possible major injury for a season that means nothing at all?
Even if it is a minor injury to a muscle, it could lead to Bailey making a minor change in his mechanics. If he does this, it could cause a major issue to something else, including his surgically repaired elbow that, with the end of the time table, would have him returning now.
Another thing that is common is small injuries becoming bigger due to overcompensating with mechanics, due to a small injury.
The best advice is to not rush Bailey again, and to make sure that he is 100 percent healthy when he takes the mound again. Whether that is again this season, or not until 2017.