Here’s the item I wrote on Joey Devine for tomorrow’s newspaper …
By Joe Stiglich
A’s reliever Joey Devine will miss the entire season after undergoing a second reconstructive elbow surgery Tuesday, performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.
It’s a devastating blow for the right-hander, who had the same procedure in April 2009 and missed two full seasons while recovering. He made 26 appearances for the A’s last season and was viewed as a potential closer candidate entering this season.
“The frustration level and sadness he’s going through right now, working as diligiently as he did … to have to go back and do that again, I really feel bad for him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Devine, 28, appeared in just three spring training games, as his elbow began giving him trouble early in camp. He went to visit Andrews – who performed his 2009 surgery – because he had pain in the ulnar nerve in his elbow.
An arthroscopic exam showed that Devine’s ulnar collateral ligament had re-torn and needed to be replaced – the process known as “Tommy John” surgery. Andrews also repaired the ulnar nerve and cleaned out Devine’s flexor tendon.
Recovery from Tommy John surgery typically takes 12-18 months, so Devine is likely to be sidelined well into the 2013 season.
Requiring the surgery twice is rare, although A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta points out that Los Angeles Angels closer Jason Isringhausen has come back from three Tommy John procedures.
“I think as we start to see these Tommy John guys come back and pitch longer and longer, we’re starting to see more of them have it done (a second time),” Paparesta said. “Obviously (requiring it within) a three-year period, it’s a little unusual.”
Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria underwent his second Tommy John procedure April 3; his first one took place in 2003 while he was in the Dodgers’ system.
Royals head trainer Nick Kenney estimated that fewer than 20 major league pitchers have undergone the surgery multiple times.
“The thing that’s going to come out here eventually is how long these (surgeries) last,” Kenney said. “We don’t know that yet. The reason that’s going to start coming up is you have younger kids who are 15, 16 years old having this procedure.”
One player who sympathizes with Devine – A’s left-hander Brett Anderson, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery himself. The two had talked often in recent days before Devine left for Florida.
“You could tell in the back of his mind he felt something wasn’t right,” Anderson said. “You’ve just got to put in the work and get in the frame of mind that you’re going to be healthy.”