As you start digging around the Internet for information about torn labrums, there’s one line that’s cited time and time again. It comes from Will Carroll’s 2004 story for Slate, and it puts the worst-case scenario into a rather harsh perspective:
“If pitchers with torn labrums were horses,” Carroll wrote. “They’d be destroyed.”
As you might have guessed, the worst-case scenario for Michael Pineda is pretty bad. It’s not dead-horse bad, but it’s bad. Ever wonder what happened to Jason Schmidt? He had a torn labrum. So did Erik Bedard.
The best-case scenario, though, is pretty good. Chris Carpenter had a torn labrum in 2002 and won a Cy Young award three years later. Curt Schilling had a slight labrum tear in 1995 and came back for the best years of his career.
Some pitchers can come back from this, but not all of them.
“(Pineda) does have youth on his side, I will say that,” Joe Girardi said. “He doesn’t have a ton of mileage in his arm as a younger player, so I think that bodes well for him. None of us are ever really going to know until we get to that point.”
I’m far from an expert on this sort of thing, but there’s plenty of recommended reading out there.
If you’re looking for the nuts and bolts of the labrum and the surgery, read Carroll’s story from Slate. If you want to see the inside of a shoulder, check out Schilling’s blog, where he documented his second labrum surgery in 2008. When Bedard had his surgery two years ago, Larry Stone looked at a few past cases of labrum surgery. A few years before that, Dave van Dyck in Chicago also wrote about past cases of torn labrums. For Pineda, there’s good news and bad news about his long-term potential, and like Girardi said, we won’t know anything until we get to that point.