White Sox’ Tommy John recipients will be coming back in waves
If there is a “next wave” of talent coming up through the Sox’ farm system, it might appear packaged in a collective elbow wrap.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — If there is a next wave of talent coming up through the White Sox’ farm system, it might appear packaged in a collective elbow wrap.
But here’s the thing about Tommy John surgeries: Pitchers often bounce back with the same or even better velocity than what they had before they were hurt.
Some don’t, of course, so the Sox are crossing their fingers while waiting for Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Dane Dunning, Jimmy Lambert, Zack Burdi and Ryan Burr to recover from their procedures.
Whew, that was a long list.
It never seems to end for the Sox, whose latest Tommy John victim was left-handed relief prospect Hunter Schryver. He left spring training and went under the knife last week in Chicago.
The first of the above to return should be Kopech, who is throwing without restrictions after having surgery in September 2018. Kopech, the team’s top pitching prospect, could be in a Sox uniform again in May or June.
Rodon is progressing nicely and might be back in July. And Dunning, a 6-4, 200-pound strike-thrower who came over with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez from the Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade — and was looking the part of a future rotation piece when he went down at Class AA Birmingham in 2018 — might be pitching in the minors in June. Dunning will throw his first live batting practice of the spring Friday.
‘‘It feels phenomenal so far, knock on wood,’’ Dunning said.
Dunning is the Sox’ No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Lambert, who — like Dunning — missed all of last season, is No. 16. His first bullpen session is scheduled for Monday.
Even though the procedure has become commonplace — Giolito, Dylan Cease and Aaron Bummer already have had theirs — the injury and subsequent time off always rocks a pitcher’s world.
‘‘I told my parents and my brother that I hated having [Tommy John surgery],’’ Dunning said. ‘‘At the same time, I honestly feel blessed because it taught me things I needed to focus on. It has taught me patience and seeing baseball through a different perspective. It has made me stronger and showed me things I wasn’t working on and things I need to do to maintain through a season.’’
The Sox’ brain trust has evaluated and reviewed the rash of Tommy John surgeries and chalked them up to a series of unfortunate events.
“I think we do everything right,’’ Lambert said. ‘‘We have the arm care and the lifting and everything. And I just think sometimes, you know, it’s bad luck. And you can say that about us and our young pitchers.’’
If there’s a silver lining in all this ‘‘bad luck,’’ it’s that misery and recovery love company.
‘‘It’s not ideal, but we’ve all had each other,’’ Lambert said. ‘‘We go through it together. As we get better physically, we also get mentally together. And I think we’re all going to be better for it when we come back, for sure.’’