Tommy John surgery ends Tominaga's season

By Sal Aversa | March 8, 2017 10:51pm
by Parker Shoaff / The Beacon

Pilots’ baseball senior pitcher Davis Tominaga underwent Tommy John surgery earlier today and will redshirt his senior season to recover.

Tominaga felt a pop in his right elbow and started feeling tightness and pain half way through the fall semester. The coaches rested him by November and he felt good after the Christmas break. But all of a sudden, he says, he felt the pain again and it had gotten worse.

“One day, I just woke up and couldn’t throw,” Tominaga said. “The pain was just too much.”

Tominaga went to a doctor. His fear was confirmed: He had a tear on his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his elbow and needed to have Tommy John surgery to repair the ligament.

The UCL is located on the inside of the elbow and connects the bone of the upper arm (humerus) to a bone in the forearm (ulna). The surgery— named after former Major League pitcher, Tommy John, who received the procedure in 1974— is common among pitchers and studies estimate that between 70 and 80 percent of players return to their competition level. The most common cause of a UCL tear is arm overuse.

Tominaga was a part of Portland’s four-man rotation last year, so head coach Geoff Loomis will need to find someone to fill his slot. Right now, he’s looking at a rotation of freshman Grady Miller, junior Corbin Powers, junior Jordan Horak, and sophomore Kevin Baker.

Last season, Tominaga went 4-10, with a 4.75 E.R.A, 57 strikeouts and led the team in innings pitched (85.1).

“Davis was a starting pitcher in our rotation last year, so not having him is a serious concern,” Loomis said.

Tominaga is optimistic that the injury won’t end his career.

In 2008, Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson had Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm. He remained hurt in the 2009 season, but in 2010, he was fourth in Cy Young voting for the National League and was an all-star. Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright also underwent Tommy John in 2011, but finished second and third in Cy Young voting in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and was an all-star in both years.

Recovery time for Tommy John surgery is typically around 14 to 18 months.

“The coaching staff is completely supportive of me having surgery and redshirting this season,” Tominaga said. “The coaches have been awesome in helping me through it.”

For Tominaga, it’s all about the rehab and the process. He wants to just keep his mind focused on the recovery process and stay optimistic.

“Our baseball players are around each other every day, so it does have an impact when a player gets injured,” Loomis said. “For them, it’s like a brother getting injured. That’s how close they are. The friendship these guys have goes beyond the field, so when a player gets sidelined, the guys and our staff rally around them, just like a family would.”

The Pilots have gotten off to a rocky start this spring, as they are just 1-9 and are currently riding an eight-game losing streak.

Portland will have their first game at Joe Etzel Field on Thursday, March 9 for the tip off of a four-game series with Northwestern.