Brian Wilson, Ryan Madsen, Other Tommy John Patients Working Their Way Back

MLB.com released injury updates Friday on no less than six pitchers, all recovering from surgery to repair ligaments in their throwing elbows (aka Tommy John Surgery).  Here are the progress reports.

John Lackey, Boston Red Sox-   Lackey underwent his surgery in November 2011, the earliest of any in this group. On December 3, Lackey told reporters that he is healthy, and ready for spring training.  The Red Sox are currently listing John in the fourth starter slot on their depth chart.

Brian Wilson, erstwhile reliever for the San Francisco Giants, heads a group of hurlers attempting to make it back from April procedures.  His surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, stated this week that Wilson is throwing, and expected to be ready for spring training.  Giants Assistant GM  Bobby Evans, when asked by San Francisco Chronicle reporter John Shea about Wilson's ability to be ready by then, made these comments  “I think Brian understands his most important part of his 2013 season is the last three months, not the first three months, in terms of performance. I think he understands those are more critical than being out there Opening Day. That’s a great goal, and I wouldn’t put it past Brian to be able to accomplish that if the medical team supports that, but I don’t think that’s more important than being there for the last out when you get into the second half of the season.”  
 Wilson's contract was non-tendered by the Giants, which means he is currently a free agent.  No matter where he signs, it is to be seen as to whether he returns as a closer, or takes a set-up role.

Ryan Madson, Los Angeles Angels  - Recently signed by the Angels, the relief pitcher notched 34 saves for the 2011 Phillies, but his April elbow repair did not allow him to appear in a single game for his 2012 club, the Cincinnati Reds.  MLB.com reported yesterday that Madson is now making 100 throws daily from 90-100 feet.  His return is speculated as "possible" for April 2013.  The Angels have revamped their pitching staff this off-season, bringing in starters Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton, plus Sean Burnett along with Madson as relievers.  Dan Haren and Ervin Santana have departed, and Zach Grienke is expected to do the same as he continues to entertain free-agent offers.

Jose Ceda, Miami Marlins - The 6'5, 280 lb. 25 year old also underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2012.  Still considered a prospect, the Marlins are not listing him on their depth chart for the upcoming season.  Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post did report that Ceda should be ready for spring training, where he is expected to compete for a bullpen spot.  With the Marlins AAA New Orleans squad in 2011, Ceda recorded 24 saves while compiling a 1.084 WHIP and 1.36 ERA.  A return to that form will certainly gain him a spot on Miami's depleted roster.

Blake Wood, Cleveland Indians - Recovering from late-May surgery, Wood still needs more time. He last pitched in the majors in 2011 with the Kansas City Royals.  Wood made over 50 appearances in each of his 2 seasons with the Royals.  He was acquired by the Indians off waivers on November 2.  His current projection for a return is "possibly mid-season 2013".

Daniel Hudson, Arizona Diamonbacks- Hudson underwent his procedure as recently as July.  After compiling an impressive 23-13 record in 2010 and 2011 after the Diamondbacks acquired him from the White Sox, Daniel's elbow allowed him to appear only 9 times before shutting down for the surgery.  With Arizona expecting Hudson to step right back in to their rotation when he does return, the latest predictions are for him to join the club around the All-Star break this coming summer.

As one can infer, it takes a full year after Tommy John surgery to regain the strength to pitch again.  How close to that schedule, and with what percentage of their previous abilities each of these hurlers return, is a question that time alone will answer.

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