Amidst recovery from Tommy John, Jameson still aims to improve

February 26th, 2024

MESA, Ariz. -- finds himself in an unfamiliar situation this spring. Around him, his teammates are readying for the long season ahead, his fellow pitchers throwing bullpen sessions and seeing game action.

Meanwhile, Jameson is readying himself for an extended rehabilitation period after undergoing Tommy John surgery last September.

“It's just more frustrating,” Jameson said. “In the offseason, it was kind of fine because it's like that’s a time where you're supposed to be down and working on yourself. And then now, when stuff starts getting going again, it's kind of like, 'Dang, this sucks.'”

Last year at this time, Jameson was battling for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. While Ryne Nelson ended up winning that job, the team was so impressed with the way Jameson was throwing that they kept him as a reliever and eventually moved him into the rotation.

When Jameson was first diagnosed with the elbow injury around midseason, he attempted to go through the rehab process rather than immediately undergo Tommy John surgery. It was a calculated move; whether he had the surgery in July or September, he was still going to miss the entire 2024 season.

The rehab route proved to be unsuccessful, so the surgery occurred in September.

“It's not an easy process for a young pitcher to step out after they've been going full throttle, and for so long, and it's probably the first time he's ever been injured on that level,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.

Jameson recently played catch for the first time since the surgery.

“It kind of felt foreign,” Jameson said. “I haven’t not thrown a baseball for six straight months since I was like four years old. So it was kind of wild.”

Rather than look at this as a lost year, Jameson is instead looking at ways he can improve. Jameson will, of course, work on overall conditioning -- even though he’s always been one of the better conditioned players -- and look into any mechanical adjustments that need to be made.

“I look at it as like a positive way of like, I'm gonna really dive in into myself and work on my craft,” Jameson said. “And use this time to get stronger and see what happens.”

Jameson will not see action this year, but he is still very much in the D-backs future plans. The question is will it be as a starter or reliever? As of right now, Arizona is planning on giving him an opportunity to start when he returns.

“The athleticism and the repeatability of his [delivery] speak to me that he should be able to start in this league,” general manager Mike Hazen said. “But we love his makeup, his competitiveness and I think some of that channels more into a bullpen role because of his aggressiveness and competitiveness. But I [think] we're going to bring it back as a starter, and I hope that we can regroup from this and start over and build him back up into a quality rotation guy.”

When Jameson realized he was going to need the surgery, he reached out to then-teammate Mark Melancon, who underwent Tommy John in 2006, to pick the All-Star's brain about his recovery. Melancon told him to do everything he would be told to do during rehab and trust that process.

So, that’s what Jameson will do. The first step was playing catch. He'll spend the summer working out at the D-backs Spring Training complex, getting his elbow healthy and trying to find ways to get better for 2025.