July 2005

Inside my Tommy John surgery

First of all, I want to apologize for the length in between blog entries. But with all of the things going on with my arm, including rehab starts, the set-back in Omaha and flying around the country for doctors appointments, there’s been a lot going on. So that’s the main reason I haven’t been in touch, not to mention the All-Star Break didn’t help much either.

I’m sure by now that everyone knows that I went to Cincinnati on July 21 and had elbow surgery.

It began when Dr. Timothy Kremchek was going to perform exploratory surgery on my left elbow and see what the problem was in there. It was quite obvious to me, knowing my body, that there was something going on in my elbow that was not allowing me to pitch effectively and finish my pitches, not too mention it had been hurting for a long time.

Dr. Kremchek told me before hand, “When I go in, I’m going to fix the problem. That could range from ‘not too bad’ to Tommy John procedure.” He said “I just want you to know that if I get in there and find something wrong with that ligament, I’m going to replace it.”

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My whole thinking on it, was this injury has been a lot like situations in life. Whether it’s a relationship or a pitching elbow – when something hurts long enough, you don’t care what it takes to get it fixed. You just want it fixed. I said, “Whatever, just fix it. I can’t take it anymore.”

When I came out of surgery, Doc came in and explained to me and that the damage to my elbow was extensive. However, on the good side he was able to get it all cleaned up. In fact it was not only as good as new, but actually better than new.

I had a tear in my flexor tendon that he was able to repair. I had two bone chips that were so big that he had to use a tool to break them up while they were still in my elbow. After that, they pulled out the bones piece by piece. He said, “I do these surgeries all the time and I don’t ever see bone chips these big.” So those were a bit unexpected.

Then of course he found a tear in the ligament and pulled a tendon out of my left wrist and drilled a couple of my holes in the bone in my elbow and weaved that tendon in and out of there. He said the tendon was very healthy and very strong, so he was able to wrap that through there six times, which is the maximum you can get. Dr. Kremchek said that the procedure went very well and that my elbow is now stronger today than it’s ever been.

So there were a lot of good things that came out of it. Just knowing that the situation is fixed, I can look forward to rehabbing and getting strong again. It’s encouraging when the doctor says there is no doubt that I have a lot of innings ahead.

The only downside, is not being able to pitch now and not being able to help Kansas City. I think the one thing that does bother me, and it’s obviously out of my control, but it’s knowing that I wasn’t able to fulfill the length of my contract and remain healthy.

When the surgery was over, Dr. Kremchek told me he had absolutely no idea how I was able to pitch the last year and a half. He said “After going into your elbow and seeing the damage, I have no idea how you were able to pitch. No idea at all.”

I said, “Well, shoot. If you look at my numbers the past year and half, I probably didn’t have any business out there.”

Every athlete wants to perform well, especially when you’re rewarded with a free agent contract and I wasn’t able to do that. I’m just kind of hoping you can make that up to the Royals some day.

It’s unfortunate, but that’s part of the game, Now I’m going to try and be an encouragement to my teammates and help out in any way that I can help on the field, all the while, making sure I’m going to be ready to pitch in the Major Leagues for whoever will have me. Maybe that can be Kansas City and I can make right for these past two years. I don’t think I would be too expensive of a player, and hopefully I can put up some good numbers and have some good years.

On a different note, I want to congratulate Mike and Shara Sweeney on the birth of their new daughter. Having been through that in February, I know that “Daddy’s Little Girl” syndrome is going to kick in right away. So I want to wish them all the best.

Despite my surgery, I’ll still be checking in to give some rehab updates and my thoughts on the team.

Rehabbing, not golfing and the best Web site

First of all, I wanted to let everyone know that I’m still doing the blog. I know I haven’t posted in awhile, but I’ve actually been busy pretending to be a Major League Baseball player this past week.

This last week I threw a simulated game in Minnesota. Even though it was just a simulated game before batting practice, I was actually nervous about it and had butterflies. After all, I haven’t faced a batter in six or seven weeks.

For those of you that don’t know, a simulated game is basically just a chance to face some live batters. You get some of your teammates in there that want to get some extra at bats and you go at them like a regular game. You have a catcher calling pitches, pitching coach working as the umpire and front office officials checking things out. By the way, pitching coach Guy Hansen calls a better game that some umpires we’ve seen recently and has been WAY more consistent.

But it went very well and I’ll be pitching in Wichita on Monday, July 4 in a rehab game. Hopefully, I’ll be back shortly after the All-Star Break.

As a team, the last couple of weeks have been somewhat of a struggle, but there is still a different feel around the club. Even though we are losing games, it’s not the same way we were losing games before. I know guys are still excited and up on the bench, shouting encouragement to their teammates and showing a lot of life. We’ve just run into some top of the line pitching that has been at the top of their game. But I think it’s just a bump in the road and hopefully we’ll get back on a winning path.

Sweeney’s Golf Tournament
Thursday was an off day and I attended Mike Sweeney’s Golf Tournament that he hosts with Tony Richardson that benefits FCA.

I obviously didn’t play since I’ve had enough goofy injuries. I didn’t want to add “Playing golf on an off day before a rehab assignment” to the list.

So I basically went out early to glad hand, meet some people and sign some autographs — if anybody was asking for them. Needless to say I only signed one. It was for some guy as soon as I got out of my car. I was like, “Wow, this is going to be nice.” But that was it for the day.

On the bright side, I did have a couple of people ask me if I could carry the clubs over to their cart. I had to let them know I was busy restocking coolers.

Seriously, though, it was nice to spend some time with the guys. I wanted to be there for Mike, even though I wasn’t going to play. It seemed to be a good turnout and I think things went relatively well.

At least they did for me, because I came out of it with a signed Priest Holmes jersey and a signed Tony Richardson jersey at the end of the dinner/auction, which actually brings up an interesting point…

Since I wasn’t going to be there fore the dinner or auction, I left a blank check for Mike Sweeney and told him to put it to good use, hoping to get a good item. He came back with two items. Although he didn’t cash the check for himself, he did take some liberties. But it was for a good cause and that’s ok.

Even though I don’t collect sports memorabilia, I can now add the two jerseys to my other items. I’ve got a Rolling Stones autographed guitar, my wife gave me a Peyton Manning signed helmet and I’ve got a Mark McGwire bat. I used to have a Mark McGwire baseball (from the year he hit 70) until my Rottweiler decided to make it a chew toy.

No joke.

The year he hit 70, I got a signed bat that was actually given to me by Mike Morgan (who will go down as one of the best all-time teammates), and a signed ball. And then I found the ball in Libby’s mouth. Libby’s since been given away, even though it had nothing to do with the ball, contrary to what some people think.

On a side note, Andrew Sisco is way too excited about his new bottle of teeth-whitening Listerine that he’s been taking out to the bullpen. I’m not really sure why, but that’s just a little sample of some of the day-to-day things that go on in this clubhouse.

Web Watch
I have to share a new Web site with you guys. For all you fans of band gear, I have a great new site for you. It’s Push Posters. Every band you can think of (except Poison, at least I couldn’t find Poison). But every other band out there, they have jewelry, posters, T-shirts. It’s an absolute joke.

It’s the best site for band gear I have EVER come across.

So I will be throwing out my threadbare 80’s big-hair metal band T-shirts and replacing them with new ones, thanks to this Web site. My first purchases will be Guns N’ Roses shirts to make into work-out shirts for the field and Guns N’ Roses shirts to wear around the house, because my wife won’t let me leave the house in them. She says “You’re 33 years old, not 18.”

So I’ll have a couple for the field, a couple for home, since I’ve got an embargo on wearing the concert T-shirts to the store. I’ve also picked up a couple of surprise shirts for some teammates.

Well, gotta to go to Wichita. Talk to you soon.