Mitch Williams: Matt Harvey could have had torn UCL since high school
The nightmare scenario for New York Mets fans happened on Monday. An MRI revealed that star pitcher Matt Harvey has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.
Harvey, who started the All-Star Game for the NL at Citi Field this summer, is likely to wait a few weeks before deciding whether to have surgery. His options would be rehabbing and hoping that the tear improves, or undergoing Tommy John surgery, which would likely keep him out for the entire 2014 season.
Harvey has said he wants to try avoiding surgery.
Former Philadelphia Phillies closer Mitch Williams thinks that waiting and seeing if the elbow improves is a viable option for Harvey. Why? Because he thinks it’s possible that Harvey has been pitching with the elbow problem since high school.
“You don’t know how long this partially-torn ligament has been partially torn,” Williams said while speaking about the injury on MLB Network. “I’m not a big believer in if it’s partially torn, waiting. In most cases I would say go ahead and have the Tommy John, but you don’t know how long it’s been there. [Harvey] said back to high school he had forearm tightness. It could have been torn clear back in high school. If he can just rehab it and do that kind of thing, that’s an option.
“Sooner or later you think it’s going to go. You can’t be any stronger than Matt Harvey is. He obviously works his body out, works it out well. … I look at him and you don’t know how long this has been partially torn. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be able to do without surgery.”
Williams was questioned about his stance and said that Harvey is so strong, he could have been pitching with the partial tear for years.
“This could have been torn — or partially torn — for years. Look at this guy. He’s a bull.”
Despite the partial tear, Harvey has managed to go 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts. He says he was shocked to learn the results of his tear.
“Obviously it was the last thing I was expecting when I went in this morning,” Harvey said. “I haven’t had shooting pains down my hand or in my elbow at all. It’s mostly been forearm tightness. It’s something, obviously, I could pitch through. It just so happens this last start was a little bit more uncomfortable than normal, and I decided it was in my best interest to get it checked out. I was hoping for … tenderness or just some stiffness and swelling of the muscle area, and it obviously turned out to be something else. That was definitely a shock.”
Harvey’s elbow likely got progressively worse over time, so I don’t think anything that may have developed in high school would be nearly as bad as it is now. I’m also guessing that he ends up having surgery. Isn’t that what seems to happen with most young, fireballing pitchers these days?
H/T Lana Berry