The Cincinnati Reds announced on Monday night that top pitching prospect Hunter Greene will have Tommy John surgery after suffering a setback last week in Arizona. Greene initially injured his elbow last July with the Dayton Dragons. He had a partial tear in his UCL at the time and was shut down. After being diagnosed, Greene opted for injections and rehab rather than Tommy John surgery. Here’s Reds President of Baseball Operations addressing the media during the Brewers vs Reds game tonight.
It was in late October where Hunter Greene proclaimed that he was 100% and feeling great after rehabbing his elbow. The Reds have had success in rehabbing partially torn UCL’s, finding success with both Anthony DeSclafani and Michael Lorenzen over the past few seasons. That day, though, Will Carroll noted that Greene had one of the larger tears to go the biological route rather than surgery.
Things seemed to be going well for Hunter Greene over his time while rehabbing in Goodyear during the winter and spring. On March 23rd he threw against hitters on the back fields, which you can watch here. Things seemed to be going well. The next time out though, is when he felt something while warming up and was shut down and then examined. The MRI showed a new tear
The surgery will be done by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. He’s the same doctor who performed the surgery on Shohei Ohtani last year. He’s also the team doctor for the Dodgers, and the NFL Rams. His client list is quite extensive and also includes former Red Johnny Cueto.
For Hunter Greene it means he’s going to miss all of the 2019 season. And it also very likely means he’s going to miss the first half of the 2020 season, too, before getting back on the mound.
The delay in opting for surgery is undoubtedly going to be brought up. There are going to be questions asked aplenty about it. We need to be sure to remember a few things. First is that the player decides the plan of action, not the team or the doctor. Second is that Greene, and the Reds, seemed to believe that he was 100% heading into spring training. The pitcher said as much in multiple places, and the team noted that he was not being held back at various times throughout the winter and spring. Third, as noted by Dick Williams in the video above – the injury suffered last week “was new damage that had occurred to the ligament”.
With all of that said above, opting for rehab was not the wrong choice simply because in the end it didn’t work out. There was risk and reward involved. If the rehab worked, Hunter Greene throws 100-120 innings this season and never looks back. If it didn’t work then his timeline now versus having the surgery last August is pushed back by half-of-a-season. Your mileage may vary on this opinion.
Here’s what Hunter Greene just posted on twitter:
Thanks for all the?? I’m in great shape & great spirits. I’m in LA & will have surgery next week by Dr. Neil Elattrache. I have an amazing support group & people around me that will make me even stronger. I’m still on track, time to move forward!
— Hunter Greene (@HunterGreene17) April 2, 2019