TAMPA — When Luis Severino was told he needed Tommy John surgery, the first thing he did was Google pitchers who have had the procedure.
Mets ace Jacob deGrom’s name appeared, giving Severino hope he can make a complete recovery from his operation, which took place Feb. 27.
“DeGrom’s name popped up,’’ Severino said at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday, his first public comments since undergoing the surgery. “And [Stephen] Strasburg, too, a lot of good pitchers came up. That gave me more confidence. These guys did it, I can do it, too. DeGrom has had a great career and Strasburg just won the MVP of the World Series.’’
DeGrom has won two straight Cy Young awards. Strasburg put together a great season and was dominant in October. DeGrom and Strasburg both had their surgeries in 2010. Ten years later, both are at the top of their game. Severino just turned 26. Strasburg, like deGrom, is 31.
You look for hope and inspiration anywhere you can find it in this life and the Yankees right-hander is doing just that.
“I know it is going to be a long recovery, but at least I’m sure I am going to be good for next year to help my team,’’ said Severino, who added he has no doubts he can be the terrific pitcher he was in 2017-18 when he posted a 33-14 record with a 3.18 ERA and struck out 450 batters over 384 ²/₃ innings. “The recovery is 12-14 months. I think in 12 months I’ll be ready to pitch, but they always do like a month and a half extra as a precaution to be ready. I’ll be good to come back.’’
Losing Severino and now Aaron Judge (stress fracture in the first right rib) for an extended period of time — an injury Judge suffered last September, but was not diagnosed until Wednesday — has been a terrible 1-2 punch in the gut to the 2020 Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton is out with a calf injury. James Paxton is recovering from back surgery. The injury-riddled 2019 season has morphed into 2020 and the Yankees had better start figuring out how to keep their stars on the field.
Catcher Gary Sanchez rested Saturday with a sore back and has not looked good behind the plate.
Judge went through a battery of tests before it was discovered he has that stress fracture. Severino also went through several major tests before the extent of his injury was finally realized.
After two MRI exams and a CT scan during the offseason didn’t uncover a torn ulnar collateral ligament, Severino underwent a nerve-conductor test, which was negative, and another CT scan, which also was negative. However, a dye contrast MRI, otherwise known as a MRI arthrogram, discovered a partially torn UCL.
“I’m frustrated because this is two years in a row getting hurt and not being able to help my team,’’ Severino said.
Injured players who are frustrated is becoming all too common in the Yankees clubhouse.
“We worked hard in the offseason and then we came here to spring training to be ready and something like this happens, a lot of things go through your mind,’’ Severino said. “Like ‘What did I do wrong in the offseason? What am I doing wrong in the past three years?’ It’s definitely frustrating.’’
Severino said that he went for those MRIs in December and January.
“When [the pain] first happened I felt discomfort, but it was going away the next day or the next two days,’’ Severino said. “So I went twice to New York to do MRIs and they didn’t find anything. At that time I wasn’t even worried about anything. If I pitch, I’ve got four days to rest and I’ll be good. The first time we did one MRI, the second time we did the MRI and the CT scan and they didn’t find nothing.’’
“Then the last time it happened, it wasn’t like that. The pain didn’t go away. It was just sitting there. ‘’
The news was crushing, but now Severino is moving forward mentally.
“In your mind you are thinking about 100 things,’’ Severino said. “At least now I know what I have.’’
And he has the Jake deGrom success model as inspiration.