KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While it’s not totally clear yet that their surgeries would be identical, White Sox pitcher Chris Beck has a sense for what Jacob deGrom is experiencing.
Last November, Beck avoided reconstructive elbow surgery, more commonly known as Tommy John, and instead had an ulnar nerve transposition, which requires several months of recovery time versus 12-18 months.
The procedure likely bears some similarities to the one the New York Mets pitcher will undergo in the future. The Mets announced Saturday that deGrom needs a “surgical repair” to his ulnar nerve, but it isn’t expected to be a significant procedure. Media reports have estimated the recovery time at three months.
While Beck, who allowed two earned runs in two innings in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals, was ticked to be inactive for two months last offseason as he recovered, he also knew he had avoided the big one.
“It’s scary at first because all the signals point to the one big surgery we try to avoid,” Beck said. “Obviously he played the same game I did, the waiting game, and tried to go through it, rehab it. Finally, just to get that news is a relief just because of how quick the turnaround is. Range of motion doesn’t take long to come back and then it’s just letting the nerve settle and then you’re good to go. I know it’s probably disappointing where the Mets are and the expectations are, but the mental side of it has to be a relief just like it was for me.”
Beck had the surgery Nov. 4. He wore a cast for a week, but had range of motion back before he had it removed. He said the only negative was the restriction from exercise of any kind for two months in order to let the nerve calm.
But Beck was throwing on a regular schedule in spring training and has had no limitations this season. He entered Sunday throwing his fastball at an average of 94.4 mph, according to fangraphs.com, up from 91.8 mph last year. While some of the increase in velocity can be attributed to a move from the rotation to the bullpen, Beck said he has never felt better.
“Honestly, improvement in stuff and the way I feel,” Beck said. “In high school they thought it was a bone spur in my elbow. When they would straighten it out there’d be a little pinching in the back. Ever since I had it moved there’s been no signal of that. It’s just how we’re built. Sometimes nerves are too short, in the wrong spot. Luckily for me it wasn’t the other one.”