This isn’t how St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Motte expected his season to go. After signing a two-year extension with the club during the offseason, he was primed to mirror his 42 save performance of 2012. That wasn’t in the cards for the hard-throwing righty, however, as he began experiencing discomfort in his elbow after an appearance on March 21. An initial MRI revealed no damage. But a follow-up procedure with them doctors revealed a Grate 1 tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and Tommy John surgery was recommended. In an attempt to avoid the procedure, the Cardinals allowed Motte to rest and begin a rehabilitation program that had shown signs of promise in recent weeks. However, discomfort returned during a throwing session earlier today and a decision to opt for surgery was made. He is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery next week and will miss the rest of the 2013 season.
Once a name that pitchers feared, Tommy John surgery has become a more routine procedure in recent years. Rehabilitation time has been cut from 18 months in 1974 to between 9-12 months today, thanks to modern rehab techniques. There are several former and current big leaguers who were able to perform at or above the level they pitched at prior to the surgery. Billy Wagner, Joe Nathan, Kris Medlen, Stephen Strasburg, and Cardinals teammates Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are among those who bounced back following Tommy John.
An official timetable for his return will be announced after the procedure. If rehabilitation goes well, Motte could be ready to return by the middle of spring training or early in the 2014 regular season.