Lewis Yocum, Doctor Who Performed Surgery on Strasburg: "I Wasn't Asked"

Lewis Yocum, Doctor Who Performed Surgery on Strasburg: "I Wasn't Asked"


Lewis Yocum, Doctor Who Performed Surgery on Strasburg: "I Wasn't Asked"

Remember last month, when Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said that the Nationals were just following doctor’s orders (and I broke down how those comments had changed over time), and Scott Boras bloviated about how there could be legal ramifications if his star client was forced to pitch anymore when it would clearly be against legal advice?

Yeah, me too. From four weeks ago:

“We’re looking at the long term health of the franchise and for Stephen Strasburg,” said Rizzo. “We’ve got a plan, we’ve got a blueprint of how to do this. This isn’t Mike Rizzo’s plan, he didn’t go to Medical school but Dr. Lew Yocum did and Dr. James Andrews did. We’re taking their recommendations and putting them into place.”

Now, at the time, I expressed my doubts about the validity of any need to shut him down at an arbitrary number, and also expressed this at the end of the Tommy John post.

I haven’t seen any literature that supports the tact from the Nationals here, but if anyone has a link to a study on arm injuries and whether it is reasonable to work a player back by throwing 90-110 pitches in April and then just going cold turkey and starting up five months later, drop them in the comments. (Please don’t actually say the Verducci effect). I like to read studies. If I had time (which I don’t because of the NFL ramping up) I would dig in and find cases of Tommy John surgeries and innings pitched the following year versus career longevity.

Of course, when the national media focused on the Strasburg story, the cool kids pointed out that the neanderthals, like myself I guess, were going against science and doctors. Here’s one example.

Well, now, my ability to do math leaves us with just one thing on the other side, as well as people who match what it comes out of. Really tough call.

That’s because the Los Angeles Times actually spoke with Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed the Tommy John surgery, and asked him about all this shutdown stuff. “I wasn’t asked,” Yocum said, saying he hasn’t talked to GM Mike Rizzo in over a year.

Yocum said that, had he been asked, he would not have been able to provide conclusive information about whether Strasburg’s long-term health would be best served by shutting him down.

“There’s no statistic as far as studies,” Yocum said.

Yocum went on to say that the decision basically stemmed from how they handled Jordan Zimmermann the year before, and that Rizzo set his own standard on that. The pitch limit did not stem from any medical directive.

In other breaking news, Scott Boras is full of s***. I’m sure that’s what Jack Kogod was referring to.

Mike Rizzo gets praise because, even if no one knows if this is the right thing, gosh darn it, at least he acts with conviction (until he claims it was doctor’s orders all along, by the way).

Well, Dr. Yocum wants you to know that it wasn’t his call. Like I said in previous commentary on the topic, I have no problem with protecting a young pitcher’s arm. I personally don’t think you do that by having him pitch over 100 pitches in April, starting in full go, then cutting him off cold turkey, then starting up again next April. I’m relieved to now know I’m not a troglodyte who disregards modern science.

[photo via US Presswire]

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