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Tommy John Surgery

Mike Phillips of the Miami Herald had this to say:

Don't expect much from Carlos Martinez -- at least not now.

Martinez is back with the Marlins, but in reality he is still on his way back from Tommy John surgery -- a long road that is getting crowded with Marlins.

That, of course, is right on target since it is long way back.  But after this, his article gets a bit iffy.

Since then, the surgery has become commonplace, and some pitchers even say they feel better and stronger after the surgery.

Reliever Billy Koch, who had the surgery in 1997, once said he would recommend it to any pitcher, regardless of whether the ligament was damaged, and when Cubs ace Kerry Wood came back from Tommy John surgery, he said his velocity was even better than before the surgery.

That really sounds all well and good, but last time I checked Wood wasn't still the ace of the Cubs staff anymore, he was pitching out of the bullpen where he will probably stay for the rest of his career.

Which bring us to the Marlins.

Martinez is one of three Marlins who have had the surgery recently. Josh Johnson had the surgery Friday to repair his ligament and is expected to miss the entire 2008 season, and Reliever Logan Kensing had Tommy John surgery Aug. 31. Kensing is pitching in rehab assignments now, and the team is optimistic about his return.

''[Kensing] has come back the best,'' Kranitz said. ``You can already see the life is there in his fastball. I was playing catch with him, and you can see it. You almost wanted to tell him to hold back.

''We want to get him back. He had swing-and-miss stuff,'' Kranitz said. ``He doesn't have to [nibble]. He can go in the strike zone and get guys to swing and miss.''

Kranitz said he thought Johnson would come back strong and wasn't worried about his disposition because Johnson has such a tough makeup. At some point, the Marlins feel all of their Tommy John pitchers will make the comeback.

''The success rate has been so good a lot of guys come back better than ever,'' Kranitz said. ``The elbow tightens up, and it's almost like you have a new elbow.

''[Johnson] will be fine,'' he said. ``Nothing seems to bother him. He's got an easy delivery, and I and see him coming back just like he was before. That's the way it is now with Tommy John. They have the surgery, and they come back from it.''

Here is the bad news, in almost every case when a pitcher has Tommy John surgery it shortens his career.  After the rehab and the regaining of command, they could be stronger for a short period of time, but they normally don't last as long in the game as they would have if they had never had the surgery in the first place.  Or if they do have some longevity they will be coming out of the bullpen much the same as Kerry Wood.

I'm not writing this to beat up on Mr. Phillips, who does quality work, it's just to let you know what we could be looking at in the future.  Also to bring up that the team needs to be more careful with the young arms in future -- last season was a disaster.  The Marlins have more young arms on the way and possibly better arms and it is time to take care of them so we don't see a repeat of what the team is going through now.