Rays pitcher Matt Moore leaves the field after he injured his throwing elbow. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
The number of elbow injuries requiring Tommy John surgery has increased this season, prompting noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews to call it an "epidemic."
So far 12 pitchers have undergone the ligament-replacement operation since spring training, and Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Moore could be the next one to go under the knife after an MRI revealed a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.
There were 19 such surgeries last year, and three under the annual average from 2000-2011.
The Atlanta Braves have three pitchers that have undergone Tommy John surgery, with starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy and reliever Cory Gearrin being lost for the season because of their injuries.
"It seems like every year I'm doing more and more, so from my standpoint it's an epidemic. There's so much information about how good the procedure is that players don't want to wait,'' Andrews said, via USA Today. "They want it done. So it's a struggle. There's always room for conservative treatment.''
Andrews said he has tried to convince two high-level pitchers with ligament tears to consider rest and rehabilitation instead of surgery.
"General managers, coaches, agents, even players think it's an automatic to get well if you just go ahead and fix it,'' Andrews said. "They don't realize the complications associated with the surgery. There's no injury that can't be made worse with surgery."JAFFE: Matt Moore faces Tommy John surgery in rare fate for Rays but increasing one in MLB