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The White Sox and Tommy John surgery: Acquaintances, not business partners

Even after filling in the gaps of an incomplete list of repaired pitchers, Herm Schneider and the White Sox staff still come out looking good.

Erick Threets: The Donnie Veal before Donnie Veal.
Erick Threets: The Donnie Veal before Donnie Veal.
Jonathan Daniel

We know Herm Schneider and the White Sox training staff always fare well when it comes to any kind of comparative study of team health.

But that doesn't mean it's not fun to look at them.

Case in point: Beyond the Box Score published what it calls "a more complete list" of Tommy John surgeries. Jon Roegele, with help from Jeff Zimmermann and a number of other partial sources, compiled a total of 488 Tommy John surgeries, both MLB and minor-league cases.

If you were to divide that number by 30 clubs, each team would "deserve" 16-17 surgeries. According to the list, the White Sox have had five. Well, the spreadsheet and chart say six, but the data incorrectly tags Randy Williams' surgery in 2000 to the White Sox. He was a Cubs farmhand at the time.

As you can guess, this puts the Sox at the bottom of the list. I'll put a snippet of the graphic below, so you can try to guess the five White Sox pitchers:


They are:

  1. Erick Threets
  2. Andy Sisco
  3. Corwin Malone
  4. Jeff Bajenaru
  5. Jason Stumm

But as Winston Wolf of Pulp Fiction said, "let's not start stocking each other's fridges quite yet." (I saw part of it on TV once.)

The problem with this data is that it's advertised as incomplete -- and there are probably many, many cases missing all over the sheet. I could think of a few notable absent White Sox immediately, so I went through the newspaper archives to contribute to the data. After a few sweeps, I was able to add eight more. In reverse chronological order of the surgeries:

  1. Thomas Royse
  2. Kris Honel
  3. Bill Simas
  4. Mitch Wylie
  5. Rocky Biddle
  6. Lorenzo Barcelo
  7. Jason Bere
  8. John Snyder

This might screw up the Sox's pretty-sitting at the bottom of the chart, but that's no knock on ol' Herm. Of these extra names, Royse (2010) and Honel (2005) were the only cases after 2000, and Simas and Bere were the only guys who were active major leaguers. Everybody else went under the knife as minor leaguers, and most before they made their debuts (if they made one).

Also, adding these names onto the list makes the Sox look even better. I mean, I searched through the three major Chicagoland newspapers from 1985 to the present, and could only expand the list to 13. That puts the Sox in a tie for the fifth-fewest in baseball, which is remarkable if you assume that the White Sox have now been scrutinized more thoroughly than most (if not all) of the other teams on the list.

(Plus, Bere and Snyder each had their surgeries in 1996. The Diamondbacks and Rays didn't exist until 1998. If you credit the Sox with 13, they're tied with the former, and way ahead of the latter.)

If you can think of others that I missed, you can submit your finds (with a date or year) here. It might hurt the Sox's standing, but it's for science. Sometimes you have to call your own penalty strokes, even if nobody else saw it.