By Dash Hamley
DALLAS – Texas Rangers pitching prospect, Matt Copland, is known for throwing a 100-mph fastball and a nasty 75-mph curveball that leaves batters swinging at air more often than not. Now, the 21 year-old double-A pitcher is taking an unusual step in his career: preemptive Tommy John surgery.
That’s right. He announced yesterday that he’s getting Tommy John surgery “out of the way.”
“I throw 100-mph for at least half my pitches,” said Copland. “Add that and the torque on my elbow during all my pitches but especially my curveball. My elbow’s going to pop at some point. That’s just a fact. So let’s get it out of the way now.”
While the rate of pitchers getting Tommy John surgeries in recent years has skyrocketed, no one has decided to do a preemptive surgery. It doesn’t sound like the Rangers organization is backing this either.
“Our players are expected to keep their bodies in good condition,” said Rangers GM, Jon Daniels. “And we can only control what they do and don’t do with their bodies to a limited degree. We’re talking with Matt, and we hope to talk some sense into him.”
Tommy John surgery repairs damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in a person’s elbow. Pitchers who get the surgery are generally out of play for 12-18 months. Despite teams’ efforts to limit the number of pitches thrown by pitchers during a season, players are still tearing their elbows. It almost seems inevitable for many pitchers.
“Look, I can’t get behind it entirely,” said former pitcher Curt Schilling, “but I get where he’s coming from. You have that specter looming over you nowadays, especially throwing as hard as he does, you just know it’s coming down the line. I can’t fault him for wanting to get it out of the way.”
Major League Baseball is rumored to be investigating Copland ever since the news broke. They reportedly want to make sure he’s not implanting cybernetics into his elbow.
“I hadn’t even thought of that,” said Copland. “If only I had the money for a robot arm, hell yeah, I’d do it.”