With the decision to send Miguel Sano for Tommy John surgery in the next few weeks, I approached Will Carroll about answering a few questions regarding the injury. We've heard from the Twins about their expectations for Sano's recovery, but I thought it was worth getting an opinion from an expert outside the organization.
Jesse: Recovery from Tommy John surgery doesn't take as long for position players as it does for pitchers. Why is that?
Will: It's simple function for most of them. A pitcher has to worry about not only arm strength, but control, command, and mechanics. That's usually the last thing to come for pitchers. Position players don't have to worry about those for the most part and just need the function.
J: Twins fans have seen the organization opt for rest before eventually settling on Tommy John on other occasions. Are there circumstances in which that approach works or has merit? Because while Sano was going to miss 2014 whether he had the injury in December or in the next few weeks, it's an approach that's been frustrating for the fans to go through time after time.
W: There's always merit, even in extreme cases like Chad Billingsly. It does work and even at a low success rate, avoiding a long, painful rehab and gaining months of a finite career is worth the shot.
J: If you were sketching out Sano's recovery and rehab timetable, what would some of the big dates be?
W: First would be the surgery date itself. Who's doing it and do they find any additional damage in there? Second would be about three months in, when he begins to do some light throwing. Third would be four to five months in when they let him hit again. At the six month martk, he'll likely be close to where he will end up, but the calendar will slow the pace some. There's no need to have him back in September, so they can be very conservative. I doubt they'll change the rehab much, but they could stretch things.
J: Does the injury have any affect on his career in the long term?
W: The only issue I have is whether he can play third. He should be able to, but there's very little in the way of precedent.