Griffin Canning: Is now the time to consider a long-term fix for his elbow?

Griffin Canning, Los Angeles Angels, (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Griffin Canning, Los Angeles Angels, (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

The novel coronavirus has forced Major League Baseball into a new reality in terms of scheduling the 2020 season, which might open a window for players like Griffin Canning to fix a lingering injury

As Major League baseball considers a variety of proposals on how to structure their season while awaiting word from public health officials of when it might be safe to play again, players, such as Griffin Canning, who are recovering from lingering injuries, could use this opportunity to opt for a long-term fix.

We learned on Tuesday that Noah Syndergaard, the long-haired flamethrower for the Mets, has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery. This coming within one week of the Red Sox announcing that left-handed starter Chris Sale will go under the knife for the same injury. There is nothing to suggest that these players would have pitched in 2020 had the season been scheduled to begin on time, but news of these pitchers opting for surgery at this point in March raises the question of whether others should consider baseball’s new landscape in making rehab decisions that require long recovery times.

Griffin Canning was shutdown in early March after experiencing soreness in his right elbow. An original MRI revealed chronic changes to the ulnar collateral ligament and acute joint irritation in his right below. Canning downplayed the results, saying, “There’s no joint, no ligament issues.”

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No matter how optimistic the young right-hander might be about his diagnosis, his elbow presents a worrisome case for the Angels. Anytime a pitcher is dealing with an injury related to the UCL, you have to be cautious. While Billy Eppler said Canning is scheduled to start throwing again next week, it is anyone’s guess how his rehab will progress in concert with the ongoing limitations placed on all players due to the coronavirus.

Medical decisions should be made based on the advice of doctors who know each individual case best. You don’t make a decision to cut into your elbow unless you are 100% sure it is the best course of action. However, there are instances when players delay the inevitable, deciding to try alternative avenues to relieve their ailments, hoping to exhaust short-term options in order to avoid longer-term rehab assignments.

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If the 2020 season is cut short, or possibly cancelled, it presents a large gap in time for players to make decisions that could put their bodies in a better position to sustain their health over the long run. It would be unfortunate if Canning eventually required surgery in June or July, when he could have done so now, and started the long road back to recovery a few months earlier without sacrificing any playing time.

Something to consider as we wait for baseball to return.