Up around 4:30am for a short run. Then onto the airport where I met up with Paul Lessard (Head Trainer) Mike Reinold (Asst. Trainer) and Dave Page (Strength and Conditioning Coach). Quick 1 hour 20 minute flight down to Delaware for a check under the hood and a fix it lesson.
The trio in Delaware are pretty much solely responsible for saving my career in 1995. Dr Craig Morgan (Arguably the smartest man on the planet when it comes to throwing shoulders and ‘sick shoulders’), Jeff Cooper (Over 3 decades as head trainer for the Philadelphia Phillies) and Phil Donnelly (NATA Hall of Fame and member of the 1980 US Olympic Training Staff). After being misdiagnosed with a rotator cuff tear, Coop led me to Dr Morgan. Doc took about 2 minutes of testing before telling me I did NOT have a rotator cuff tear, but instead I had a “SLAP Lesion”. I believe it’s Superior Laberal, Anterior, Posterior Tear. What it isn’t, is a rotator cuff tear. I went from “Career ending” to “I can make you better than you’ve ever been if you follow the protocol for rehab” in a span of about 24 hours.
Doc fixed me, Phil rehabbed me, with Coop, and Coop kept me healthy over the next 5+ years. I came out of surgery throwing about 5-7 mph harder on a pretty consistent basis. Doc told me that he’d make my shoulder perfect, and he did, but also said that if I didn’t follow the protocol religiously none of it would matter.
Phil oversaw an intense rehab that was as much an education for me on my shoulder as it was rehab for the shoulder itself. I learned about the Kinetic Chain long before it was ‘en vogue’. The transfer of power from the point of your plant foot, to the tip of your throwing hand is a process that relies on strength, flexibility and range of motion in your foot, ankle, knee, thigh, hip, core, chest, shoulder, elbow, forearm, hand. Have a snag in any one spot and the transfer of power is diminished. Go too far astray and the entire chain becomes tangled.
Someone with easy repeatable mechanics is apt to hide the symptoms or problems much longer than others. This is basically what’s happened to me over the past year. You do not just lose 5 mph in a week or two span, barring an injury. I was concerned the entire season I had a labral tear. I don’t. I basically have major clogs in the kinetic chain that are a direct result of limited, to almost non existent flexibility in my right ankle.
The major indicators are my left hip, which is tight, and my thoracic spine. Bottom line is I’ve lost flexibility in areas I cannot afford to. At 35 I could overcome them, or didn’t have them. I can’t now.
One of the major problems with not feeling well and trying to spend days between starts just being able to get back on the rubber is that you lose time and ability to stay focused on the little things you pour yourself into when things are running smoothly.
Dave and Paul worked to get me right, and Mike instituted a cutting edge program that, were it not for them, My season ends in July.
It was more of a program designed to get me out there, than it was to progress. During the season it’s close to impossible to progress some of this stuff due to the exercises and other things involved.
That’s now fixed. What these 6 guys did, under the eyes of Doc and Phil, was design the program that will allow me to regain the hip flexibility I must have, along with fixing my scapula. The serratus, and deltoid, and lat, have gotten to a point where my right shoulder blade is beginning to ‘wing’. That’s bad. The right shoulder blade MUST remain ‘pinned’ or tucked close to the back as it rotates through the delivery. “Sick shoulders” will see the scapula ‘wing out’ or ‘sag’ to a point where they put undue force on the shoulder joint. Compressing areas that cannot remain compressed, causing inflammation. Unchecked this inflammation leads to discomfort, pain and pretty soon a shut down of the core muscles that are required to throw. If you keep throwing your arm and body will find a way, but it will do so with muscles not trained to do it, and often times this results in the dreaded TJ, or Tommy John surgery. I was stunned to find out that Tommy John is RARELY caused by the elbow itself, but more often than not it’s the major stress put on the elbow from a sick shoulder no longer working that causes the ligament to blow.
One of the other by products that you will often see is just how many guys have TJ surgery, come back feeling fantastic, only to have follow up shoulder surgery. The confusion is now much easier to clear up when people realize that the elbow surgery never fixed the factors that caused the injury. Having elbow surgery and spending 18 months rehabbing the new ligament, under the eyes of someone not up to speed, results in the true cause of the injury, the sick and weakened shoulder, to never be addressed.
Horribly boring for anyone not REALLY interested in this kind of stuff.
Bottom line is Dr Morgan told me, pretty much with the same passion and honesty he did 12 years ago, that I would regain 4-5 mph if I stuck to the lengthy program and routine they have now laid out for me.
I don’t really see any options at this point.