La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Breaking news: Scott Baker has Tommy John surgery, not flexor tendon surgery

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 17, 2012 - 7:05 PM

In a stunning turn of events on Tuesday, Twins righthander Scott Baker went in to have surgery on his flexor pronator tendon but exited with Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery.

Baker was supposed to have surgery on the flexor tendon. An MRI taken late in spring training showed that the ulnar collateral ligament - the one that is replaced during Tommy John surgery - was sound. But Twins spokesperson Dustin Morse said that when surgeon Dr. David Altchek opened up the elbow and took a look, he decided to repair the ligament.

Pitchers normally take 12-18 months to recovered from the surgery. It's unclear at this time how long Baker will be out. This surely means the Twins won't pick up the $9.25 million option on his contract.


Baker went from having a six-month recovery period to being out a year or more. Stephen Strasburg was pitching around 11 months after his Tommy John surgery, but every pitcher is different.

I just want to point out that, last week at his press conference, the Twins announced that Baker's flexor tendon just needed, "a cleanup." Those were Terry Ryan's words.

Here's Baker from last week:

"He said this is something that’s not going to repair itself. It’s not going to cure itself. It’s something that needs to be taken care of. Fortunately, he said the (UCL) ligament looked great, so I guess in a way, as bad as this is, the flexor pronator tendon is what needs to be repaired. Nobody hates this more than me. So it’s tough.”

So the UCL looked great?

“Yeah, he said there’s no need to mess with that. I haven’t had any discomfort there, which is a good thing. But at the same time, what’s going on right now, I just know two things: It’s painful and it’s affecting my ability to be effective in a major league baseball game. What do you do when that’s the case? You have to get it taken care of."

 I've got to get back to the game. People are getting ejected. But Baker's case sounds somewhat similar to this one:


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