Kohn feels for pitchers undergoing Tommy John
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Michael Kohn feels so good these days, he often overthrows. The Angels' power reliever is entering his second year post-Tommy John surgery, and some days the ball is flying out of his right hand, so Kohn has to constantly remind himself to calm down, be mindful of his mechanics and "not try to throw the ball a million miles an hour."
Some are nowhere near as lucky.
And this week, the sport has seen an epidemic of pitchers blowing out their ulnar collateral ligament not long after they had it replaced. Braves ace Kris Medlen underwent his second Tommy John surgery in 3 1/2 years on Tuesday. Fellow rotation mate Brandon Beachy is slated to undergo his second in less than two years on Friday. And A's Opening Day starter Jarrod Parker found out on Monday that he would need his second in four years.
"Crazy," Kohn said, shaking his head.
"You read your Twitter and every five things on there it's like, 'This guy's having TJ, this guy's scratched, this guy has stiffness, next thing I know he's having TJ. It's like, 'Whoa, I don't need to pitch today.'"
Kohn, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery on April 12, 2012. During the procedure, Dr. James Andrews replaced the torn ligament in Kohn's right elbow with a tendon from his left hamstring, which is stronger than the more-often-used palmaris. Kohn went on to make 63 appearances in the big leagues in 2013, posting a 3.74 ERA and throwing his fastball at an average speed of 94.2 mph -- a tick higher than where he was before surgery.
Now, he feels even better.
"I'm starting to reap benefits of the great surgery," Kohn said. "Some guys don't reap those benefits; they have to learn to just throw different."
Kohn said he takes the mound without fear that his elbow ligament will snap again because "that's something that's out of your control anyway. Those guys going through it a second time, it's kind of tough; you feel for those guys. You work so hard to get back to your form, and it's not like you get back to your form in a year and you're normal. You're still battling. So going through it a second time is even tougher."
Kohn also doesn't see an immediate way to remedy all the arm injuries.
"Everybody's built differently," he said. "Some guys' tendons are stronger than others', some guys have faster-twitch muscles than other guys who break easily. I don't think that's something we'll ever figure out unless they give a guy a bionic arm."