Now begins the long process of rehab — and a long wait for Chicago White Sox fans.
RHP Michael Kopech yesterday underwent successful Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles, Calif. Kopech is expected to make a full recovery in time to fully participate at spring training prior to the 2020 season.— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 19, 2018
Given the timing of the injury (and surgery), missing the entire 2019 season would indicate that the White Sox are willing to take the most patient route back for Kopech, and given the material investment put into the fireballer (either 1⁄2 or 1⁄3 of Chris Sale, depending on how you view such things), that is a wise play.
“Hopefully, it will be the last time he ever has to live through something like this,” manager Ricky Renteria told reporters pregame Wednesday.
While the ex-major league infielder never withstood a TJS injury to extended rehab, Renteria nonetheless offered encouragement and advice to his young hurler:
”Obviously, it went well, and I think he understands intellectually what [rehab is] going to require of him,” Renteria said. “I’m sure that as driven as he is, he’ll understand the heart it’s going to take to continue to work through this. It’s a patient process to make sure he comes through this as well as possible [and] to give himself a chance to be that guy we all believe he’s gonna be once he’s recovered.”
It’s not the most coherent quote, or advice, but we get where you’re coming from, Ricky.
Kopech was Chicago’s No. 2 prospect and No. 13 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, of course came to the White Sox in the Sale trade, with teammate Yoán Moncada and Double-A outfielder/rising prospect Luis Basabe.
The 22-year-old was recalled from the Charlotte Knights on August 21 and got four starts in before being sidelined with his elbow injury. Most notably, Kopech had three of his four starts (each one of his home games) truncated or interrupted by rain.
More statistically speaking, Kopech went 1-1 with a 5.02 ERA and 15 strikeouts over 14 1/3 innings.
Those numbers, however, betray how effective Kopech was before the September 5 start against the Detroit Tigers, where he apparently suffered his injury. In his first three starts (two truncated by rain), Kopech allowed just one earned run in 11 innings, giving up 11 hits (eight singles, three doubles), one walk (and five HBP) against nine Ks. Despite a bit of a Wild Thing streak (re: plunking dudes), Kopech displayed strong control in those first three outings, throwing 118 of 174 (68%) pitches for strikes.
Renteria also encouraged Kopech to be patient during his long layoff.
”He is a guy who is very disciplined, he’s a hard worker but I think we’re probably gonna stay on top of him to make sure he doesn’t do more than what he’s supposed to,” Renteria said. “Sometimes [players think] more is better, and that’s not necessarily the case [with rehab]. It’s guarded, it’s measured, it’s following a protocol of routine and work and, obviously, healing.”
Best wishes to Kopech on his recovery and rehab. We relish the opportunity to paste his return outing as a breaking news banner atop this very site in 18 months or so.