Sometimes when you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain. Such was the case with Mitch Harris last June as the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher faced an unknown future regarding the discomfort in his elbow.
Both Dr. George Paletta and Dr. James Andrews agreed that something was wrong in his elbow, but there wasn’t an exact diagnosis.
“We think it was actually something that started previous to 2015,” shared Harris. “Having not thrown for so many years and then to come back and ramping it back up so quickly and at such a high level, that’s one of the things that Andrews said that was a big reason why that happened.”
At 31-years old, Harris knew that Tommy John surgery could end his hopes of returning to an MLB roster.
“I’m a little different than others going into that type of situation,” acknowledged Harris. “I finally just said, we know something’s not right. We’ve got to fix it, whatever we’ve got to do. That’s when (Paletta) said there is a new surgery, I’m going to go in thinking we’re going to do Tommy John. But if I go in there and everything looks right, which we think it will, then I’m going to do this newer procedure. Fortunately enough, when he got in there everything was very healthy it was just that ligament had basically pulled off the bone.”
Dr. Paletta re-attached the ligament using the yet-to-be-named procedure.
“It’s hard to explain to everybody because they say, well what’s it called? I don’t know. A repair. We had a repair,” said Harris, who laughed at the idea of it becoming the Lieutenant or LT procedure.
Among the benefits of the procedure was the ability to begin throwing just a couple of months later. And now the right-hander is hoping to be back to 100% within the next 10 days.
“When I say 100%, I think I can get on the mound and I can throw as a reliever 30 pitches at 100% effort and no pain,” explained Harris. “The following day I get up, I feel like I’ve thrown but the following day I can go out throw again. So kind of back to what the season would be like, I need to make sure that within the next day or two I can throw again, that to me would mean you’re at 100%. But I need to throw at 100% intensity for at least 25-30 pitches.”
Where this puts Harris in the mix for a roster spot on the Cardinals remains to be seen, but what had looked like the end now offers a chance at another chapter of his baseball story.
“My mentality is that I will be ahead of the game by the time Spring Training starts,” said Harris.
photo credit: Charles LeClaire, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports