Till I can't anymore. All I've got is what I'm giving

After being inspired by LankyLefty specifically, but also others, I’ve decided to start my own pitching journal. I’m fresh out of Tommy John…last Tuesday, June 5th. My arm is in a sling, and my road to recovery is going to be a long one. But many have gone before me, and many will go after. It’s just part of my story. Just have to keep on grinding.

A little background info on myself.

-18 years old (March 25)
-181 lbs (rapidly losing muscle in arms and legs because of post surgery restrictions)
-Will be a freshmen in college at a very competitve D2 school, but am receiving a medical red shirt

Pre surgery notes

-81-84 consistent
-never seen harder than 86 on gun
-Plus change up
-plus curve ball
-straight over the top

My journey to this point hasn’t been the easiest, and it’s about to get a lot more difficult. RHP in the low 80s who are done growing aren’t in high demand. After my junior year, I got on a high powered summer team and worked my way into the #1 starting role. I thought this would get me recruited…it didn’t. I never had coaches call me, I never got letters in the mail, I never got e-mails. This is now extreme motivation. Anyway, I began an extreme throwing program. I would play long toss four days a week, and throw two 30 pitch pens. One day would be light toss. I was convinced that my problems with my velo were a result of a lack of long toss and throwing as a whole. At first I saw results, but then pain began to become a real issue. Then I started losing velocity. I just thought I could throw through it, but I was wrong. After finally getting the opportunity to workout with a couple D2 schools, they liked what they saw to an extent. Because of the arm problems, I was only able to touch 80 at one of the workouts, but my change and curve were impressive at all of them, and I ended up with two small scholarship offers and a scholarship free spot. A walk on who was on the team I guess. I took the last of the three because the baseball was the best. The arm problems persisted, and I took time off. After I began throwing again, it was no better, and I knew I needed to see a doctor. Torn UCL. I went ahead and played for my HS team because we had a legit chance to win state and because my college coach was cool with it. It was very physically and emotionally tough and draining but I managed a sub 3 era, and really had a solid season. I really had to pitch. There were days I couldn’t even get to the high 70’s, and I’ve never had to battle so much. I learned a lot about myself as a competitor. I’m thankful for it all, and it will all help me in the end.

The Tommy John at first was devastating to me, but now I’m thankful for it. I have 14 months until I need to be ready for fall ball, and my rehab can make me stronger if I work at it. No easy task ahead, but I’m committed to this journey. All I’ve got is what I’m giving. I need this accountability.

Goals for redshirt freshmen year

-consistent 85-87
-67% strikes
-curveball and change-up return to form and some (must get better to adjust to higher level of baseball)
-improved mechanics
-200lbs (12% body fat)
-25 Innings
-3.5 ERA
-5 to 1 k to bb rate

How I’m going to get there

-Rehab like a maniac, while listening to my arm and being cautious
-a specific workout plan will be coming in addition to TJ rehab
-work on nutrition (will get more specific)

My main thing is getting healthy at this point.

Good luck I’ll be following.

Big day today. Went to the doc, and heard all good things. My splint was taken off and the stitches came out. I was extremely nervous to move my arm again, but everything was fine. Unfortunately, he said that the incision was a really clean cut, and the scar wouldn’t be that noticeable. I was a little bummed, but it’s all good. Remarks all seemed good, and I’m ready for rehab. My doctor works with a lot of pro guys, so my rehab is straight out of the major leagues. I’m excited about that. I also got my brace that I’ll be wearing for the next 5-6 weeks (depending on what the physical therapist thinks). It’s locked out at 20 and 110 degrees. It’s a little painful to move my elbow even within the restrictions, but that should go away pretty soon.

I don’t understand a lot of this, but thankfully my physical therapist does. Here’s the rehab for the next 2-3 weeks (Days 14-21)

-5 to 7 days after initiating the elbow brace at 20-110 degrees increase to 10-120 degrees.
-Progress to light wrist stretching if Palmaris longus used (I do understand this. The Palmaris longus is an extra ligament that 70% of people have in their forearm. I luckily do. If you don’t have one, they usually go to the hamstring or in some cases the foot which would suck)
-Progress TrA exercises as able (no load through upper extremities)
-Initiate other abdominal & lumbar activities (No load through upper extremeties)
-AROM of the shoulder (with brace on - NO WEIGHT)

  1. Full can
  2. Abduction
  3. ER/IR (Wrist neutral - very light/yellow to red theraband)
  4. elbow flexion/extension (1 lb)
  5. Table top (forearms on table, wrist in neutral) scapular retraction-row
    -Initiate light scapular strengthening
    -Initiate upright, stationary bike (may start sweating during activity)
    -Initiate lower extremity exercises (NO RESISTANCE THROUGH THE ARM)
  6. straight leg raise
  7. seated straight leg raise
  8. hip abduction
  9. hip abduction (it says it twice)
  10. hip internal rotation
  11. hip external rotation
  12. calf raises

All of this will start tomorrow. It’s really pretty amazing to me that most of the rehab listed here has next to nothing to do with the arm. I think it’s awesome. I’m excited because not only will I be able to rehab my elbow, I should get better as a whole just from the rehab. Not until week 17 will I be able to work out again doing my own thing. A long time, but all necessary. They say one of the hardest part of Tommy John is simply the patience…so I’m trying to have a lot of it. Also I read this week that a lot of healing has to do with thinking positive thoughts. Like for instance…if your knee begins to hurt, and after a while you start saying you have a bad knee, the chances of you ever healing are much less likely. You basically talked your body out of healing. Pretty crazy stuff to me. I would hate to slow my healing with negative thoughts, so when I get down, I quickly try to pick myself back up. I’m so glad to finally start rehab. Every day is a day closer to recovery. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.

best of luck man, you seem to have the right mindset to make things happen.

Before I say anything else, I want to thank Lanky and Wales for the support. I really appreciate it guys.

First day of physical therapy today, and things went well. Worked a lot on range of motion. Rehab really went pretty quick…it just felt good to start on the road to recovery. My physical therapist is my best friend’s dad, so he’s extremely willing to work with me, and excited about it. He told me I’m welcome to come in and work out whenever I want, which I’ll definitely be taking advantage of. The pain today was a little rough at times, but I made good progress and iced after. Last night I laid in bed for an hour or so before finally getting ibuprophen. Then I was finally able to sleep. Arm felt good when I left. Physical therapist extended my range of motion from 20 degrees to 10 degrees on extension (when I straighten my arm). He kept it at 110 degrees when I bring my arm in. I’m now able to hit the limits on both sides. Every even hour of the day I do 10 extensions, and 10 flexes as far as I can in the brace. Ive also began icing to decrease swelling as recommended from my PT. Acording to my rehab plan, I can now ride a stationary bike which I did tonight. It was awesome just to really sweat. Only 20 min tonight on the bike. I miss real workouts where you can just go as hard as you want. Those days are coming though. Tomorrow I’ll do rehab exercises on my own, and I’ll return to PT on Thursday. Looking forward to an increase in work.

Anyone have any suggestions on a solid nutrition plan? I’m looking for something to help me recover quick, and be able to add some muscle to my frame. Thanks

Good stuff man. Keep it up.

As far as nutrition, scourge around here, there was a guy on here who used to post some good things about nutrition, I’m pretty sure there’s a sticky called the nutrition mega thread.

Also ask lanky he’ll be able to give you some solid advice.

Thanks Wales. I’ll do some research.

Had a rehab session at 9 yesterday morning. It lasted about an hour, and went well. Everything just happens so slow. It’s frustraiting because I’m used to really pushing myself, but with Tj you hav to take everything with such caution. It just feels like I could go through rehab so much faster. In my frustration I decided just to jump on the stationary bike and try to sweat it out in a hoody. 45 minutes later, I was feeling a lot better. In other news, my range of motion is up, while my swelling is down. The wounds have healed up really nice…baseball seams on my arm forever haha. I went to my college to schedule classes, and get everything ready for next year. I also was able to talk to my coach, and tell him things were going well. I’m going to shock him and everyone else when I come back on another level. I don’t need a scholarship to make me better. Thanks for the support guys.

I’m now three plus weeks out of surgery which means it’s time for some changes in my rehab. Heres my protocol for weeks 3 - 4 (days 21-28 )

-Shoulder - External rotations from side (1 lb only)
-Scapula - Prone “Y,” “T,” & “A”
-Initiate stabilization for shoulder and wrist
-Initiate shoulder motions
-Initiate leg machine exercises (There should be no feeling of pressure or pulsing in the surgery arm. No holding on with the surgery arm)
-Initiate wrist exercises

  1. flexion
  2. extension
  3. supination
  4. pronation
  5. radial deviation
  6. ulnar deviation
    -Progress to 2 lb - elbow flexion and extension

I’m frustrated…I shouldn’t really be, but I am. Not discouraged by any means, just frustrated. One second I can see big progress, and the next second I feel like nothing has changed. For instance, with my range of motion…My brace will only let me go from 10 degrees to 120 degrees. Some times it’s not hard at all, and there is very little pain reaching the limits, but other times it’s like I’m right out of surgery again. The pain will be too much and I can’t even get close. I don’t understand it…I think part of it has to do with the swelling that occurs from rehab, so I’ve started icing more and more.
I guess I’m to the point now, where rehab feels like it’s going to last forever, and baseball is still so far away. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had a good talk yesterday with a college pitcher who is only a couple weeks ahead of me in his rehab from Tommy John. It was good to have someone to relate to. We both have a lot of the same thoughts, which for some reason is comforting. It was even encouraging to a degree.
Rehab now takes from 40 min to an hour each day. Nothing too bad, and most days I don’t even break a sweat. I’m making a conscious effort to increase total body flexibility while I’m down. I’ve heard several guys mention that an increase in flexibility helped them with velo, and I figure I have nothing to lose. Stretching is one thing I can do a lot of at this point. I can now work my legs on machines which is extremely exciting. The stationary bike has been my only way to really work out and sweat for the last couple weeks, and I’m ready to be able to do something else. Plus, I can gain valuable leg strength that will be important when I make it back. That’s all I’ve got for now. Just continuing to grind it out on the long road to recovery.

The biggest key to rehab is don’t get too high and don’t get too low. Stay focused on the end goal and progressively work towards it.

It’s a long road to recovery from any surgery. I’ve been through it I can speak from experience.

There might be set backs there might not be, you have to take it all in stride.

The hardest part isn’t the physical aspect, its the mental game. Get a good grip mentally and it’ll help make everything else easier.

Stay focused and keep your head up.

Good call Wales. I appreciate it. I’m getting this mental thing down…it’s just a process.

I’m realizing now, how lucky I am to not be rehabing a shoulder. I’ve talked to some guys who have been through that, and it sounds like a whole different level.

Anyway, rehab is going well. It’s very routine, and while still slow, I can definitely see progress. Range of motion has really improved in the last 5 days, and there is much less pain when I’m moving around. I really have to be careful now to not do too much with my arm. It feels good enough most of the time to do something like carrying in the groceries, and it’s difficult to limit myself.

My legs are getting stronger now that I’m able to use leg machines, and my flexibility is also improving. The awesome thing about this year off for rehab, is that I have the opportunity to build up every other part of my body and come back stronger than ever. My rotator cuff should be in the best shape ever, my legs will be stronger, my core will be much better, and I’ll have better full body flexibility. That really excites me. I really should be ready to explode when I get back.

Before I go any further, I want to take a second and say happy birthday to America. God continues to bless our great nation, and while our country has many rising problems that need work, today I just want to give thanks. To all those who have given their lives for our freedom, and all those who will make the ultimate sacrifice in the future, I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to you. Thanks doesn’t begin to cut it, but that’s all I have.

Now to the baseball. Had a very good rehab session yesterday with my PT. According to my protocol, which is from a Major League Baseball team, I can begin to discontinue my brace starting this week. By August 1st, I should be completely done with it. I can’t wait for that. I moved up a pound in all rehab exercises, but experienced a little too much pain in my overhead extensions, so we went back to 1lb for that particular exercise.

My rotator cuff, and really my shoulder as a whole is getting stronger. My rehab really seems to be more focused on it than the elbow. The elbow doesn’t get very much work at all, while my shoulder is usually pretty fatigued when I’m done.

Yesterday I was talking to my PT about my goals for this upcoming season velocity wise (consistent 85-87), and he thinks I should be touching 90 without too much trouble. I got pretty stoked about this…but then again, this is coming from a guy who never even played high school baseball, and he doesn’t realize how magical and difficult of a number 90 is. But still, it was an awesome thought. I’ll get to 90 someday, but I’m not sure about next year. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t work my rear off to try and get there sooner.

Well guys, thanks for reading. It hasn’t been a month yet, but I must say I’m really enjoying this. Really glad I decided to start this journal.

Good stuff man, glad to hear things are going well for you.

You’re right about ringing the bell its so easy for someone whose never played or worked hard at trying to achieve that goal in saying touching 90 is doable.

Keep working hard and I’m sure you’ll see the results you’re looking for.

Good luck on recovering from TJ, remember to learn from your experience so you don’t hurt your arm again

What exercise plans do you have after your arm heals?

[quote=“dreamer23”]Good luck on recovering from TJ, remember to learn from your experience so you don’t hurt your arm again

What exercise plans do you have after your arm heals?[/quote]

Thanks man. As far as exercise plans after my arm heals, I’m still working on that. A lot of what I will do will come from my college. They have a pretty solid weight program that I’m really excited to get into. Then I’ll also throw in some additional stuff to gain an edge on everyone else. When I get to that point, I’ll be posting my entire workout. I’m actually not too far from being able to workout like normal. At 17 weeks, my rehab protocol says I should be completely back to normal with my UCL with everything except throwing a baseball. So in short, I’m not quite sure yet, but I’ll post my workouts when I figure them out.

Make sure the weight lifting program is baseball specific and pitcher friendly. You’d be suprised to see how many Baseball lifting programs are actually designed to be football programs but the strength and conditioning coach or HC use it because they are in love with the idea of player’s getting “bigger and stronger” rather then focusing on functional strength and flexibility.

My apologies for the recent lack of posts. I’ve been out of town, and it’s been very difficult to get internet. But I assure you that while rehab has been very inconvenient, I’ve been working hard at it. Even doing burnout lunges and other things for my legs when I haven’t had a weight room to get in to. Also I’ve been working hard on my flexibility, and the result’s are good.

Anyway, things are going well. I just met with my PT this morning to rehab. It was a painful hour and a half, but an encouraging one at that. My progress has me very excited. My rotator cuff is getting stronger with every workout. Also my scapular strength is improving which should help improve my velocity when I get back. I’m also now working in a rice bucket. I encourage you guys to check out rice bucket workouts on youtube…really interesting, and good stuff. Great for the forearm. As of yesterday, I can get on an eliptical for cardio. Really a good thing, because I’m burnt out on the stationary bike.

Two years ago, I read a book called “A Fighters Mind” by Sam Sheridan. I thought it was incredibly interesting to take a look at the mental side of the sport, and I decided to read it again. When you think about it, fighting and pitching are pretty similar several ways. I’ve really learned a lot through the book. As athletes, so many of us forget about what we can do with our mind. It’s a side of us that is often left untapped into. In one part of the book, Dan Gable (the most dominant wrestler of all time) talks about how important his imagination was to his success. If he couldn’t dream it, how could he ever conquer it. We have to see the success we want to have before we can have it. So in my rehab, I’m trying to also work very hard on the mental side of my game, and I really think this can help me on the other side of rehab.

One last thing that I’m really excited about. I think there’s a pretty good possibility that I’ll be able to spend a month at Cressey Performance next summer. I really need to figure out where I would stay, but I’m hopeful that it happens. I think it would really help propel me into game ready shape again.

Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to ask me any question DM or right here.

Sounds like everything is going well. Good stuff.

If you want some Baseball specific mental books I’d suggest the following for you to read:
Head’s Up Baseball Ken Ravizza Tom Hanson ISBN 1-57028-021-5
The Mental ABC’s of Pitching H.A. Dorfman ISBN 1-888698-29-2
The Mental Game of Baseball H.A. Dorfman and Karl Kuehl ISBN 1-888698-54-3

[quote=“Wales Diesel”]Sounds like everything is going well. Good stuff.

If you want some Baseball specific mental books I’d suggest the following for you to read:
Head’s Up Baseball Ken Ravizza Tom Hanson ISBN 1-57028-021-5
The Mental ABC’s of Pitching H.A. Dorfman ISBN 1-888698-29-2
The Mental Game of Baseball H.A. Dorfman and Karl Kuehl ISBN 1-888698-54-3[/quote]

Thanks Wales. I have both The Mental ABC’s of Pitching, and The Mental Game of Baseball. I really enjoy both of them, and would reccomend the reading to anyone. Great stuff to gain an edge.

So when you go to school how’s the rehab going to be effected?