ARLINGTON -- Luke Hagerty's journey back to a mound with the Cubs was one of the feelgood stories of Spring Training. And while the former prospect turned pitching instructor hoped to complete an improbable climb to the big leagues this year, his inspiring comeback has taken an unfortunate turn.
Hagerty is scheduled to undergo a procedure on his left elbow next week and, while it is not a traditional Tommy John surgery, the 37-year-old left-hander will not pitch in 2019. Hagerty, who signed a Minor League contract with Chicago this past offseason, still plans on trying to come back after going through his rehab.
"I'm not here to waste anybody's time," Hagerty said earlier this month. "I don't want to come in and just be kind of thrown in there like, 'Oh, that's a great story. Let's have him come in and play around a little bit.' I don't want that. I don't need that. I came back because I feel like I could help the team in some way. That's what I want to do and why I'm here."
Hagerty was selected by the Cubs with the 32nd overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft, but was out of baseball by 2009 after injuries and a case of the yips plagued his playing career. Now the strength and conditioning specialist and the founder of X2 Athletic Performance in Scottsdale, Ariz., Hagerty was attempting a comeback at the urging of the young pitchers he coaches and with the support of his family.
Over the winter, videos emerged of Hagerty flashing 98-mph fastballs as he wowed onlookers during a throwing session in front of scouts at Driveline Baseball in Kent, Wash. He said a few teams showed interest, but Hagerty felt compelled to sign with the Cubs to "right a wrong almost."
During Spring Training, Hagerty developed a flexor tendon issue in his left arm and was shut down from throwing in the early portion of Minor League camp. The lefty expressed optimism about being able to build his throwing back up, but that process stalled and will now result in surgery.
"I felt like I kind of owed it to the organization," Hagerty said of signing with the Cubs. "This was a chance that I could kind of have a little bit of redemption. I don't know how I could pass that up."