FORT MYERS, FLA. – Trevor May said he’s pitched professionally for 10 years, and has never had problems with his golden right arm.
“I have literally not missed a day of baseball activity because my arm hurt,” May said.
When he felt something tug in his elbow Wednesday while throwing a pitch to Team USA’s Andrew McCutchen, May thought nothing of it and kept pitching. It wasn’t until Friday when May looked at test results and saw that his run of durability had abruptly ended.
May has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. While a treatment plan has not been determined yet, May’s 2017 season is over just as he was getting used to starting again.
“I’m just trying to look forward, taking it one minute at a time right now,” May said. “It was a big blow, especially with how last year went, getting back to where I was, I was excited. Unfortunately I am not going to be able to do that this year.”
The diagnosis was made by Twins team physician Dr. Pearce McCarty, one of the several team doctors who rotate through Fort Myers during camp. Dr. John Steubs, the Twins director of medical services, was consulted. The Twins were encouraged that the rest of area revealed little wear and tear, suggesting the injury was acute.
“Most likely, this week, he will have a second opinion,” said Twins General Manager Thad Levine, “After which point Trevor will have a chance to regroup with his family, his agent and determine the exact course of action he wants to pursue.”
Tommy John surgery normally is the treatment for a torn UCL and takes 12-18 months to return from. But there are new procedures that could the shorten the timeframe.
Royals reliever Seth Maness underwent a ‘‘primary repair’’ procedure that could have him back in games after 7½ months. The Angels’ Garrett Richards is attempting to return in less than a year after undergoing stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma injections.
“As far as I know it’s pretty clear that some of that stuff may not work for me,” May said. “We don’t know for sure, it’s all part of the process.”
May felt fine after Wednesday’s game, even gushing about the progress he’s made with his curveball after tweaking his grip on the ball. But May felt soreness in his elbow over the next couple of days, and grew concerned.
“Second day not going to be able to throw again, something is wrong,” May said. “Let’s figure out what it is.”
An MRI was conducted, revealing the tear.
“The hits just keep on coming,” pitching coach Neil Allen said.
May, who has allowed three earned runs over 7⅔ innings this spring, was one of the top contenders for the No. 5 starter’s role. It was his best opportunity since coming over from Philadelphia with Vance Worley in the Ben Revere deal in 2012.
He was used out of the bullpen the past two seasons but relished the opportunity to get back in the rotation this season after working out of the bullpen for most of 2015 and all of last season. He went 2-2 with a 5.27 ERA last season while dealing with back problems during the season. He found out late in the season that he had a stress fracture in his back.
He reported to camp healthy and announced to the media that he no longer viewed himself as a reliever. May took it one step further when he met with Levine, Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and manager Paul Molitor early in camp, telling them he wanted to start a game in the playoffs for the Twins.
“That goes to show the drive Trevor had coming into camp,” Levine said. “We view that as that goal doesn’t change, the viewpoint doesn’t change. Just maybe the year will change in when he will get to achieve it.”
May likes to write down his goals for the day. He know he has to add ‘‘next year’’ or ‘‘in 2018’’ to some of them.
But he’s trying to remain positive, which makes it easier to understand the big picture.
“I anticipate going after my rehab unlike anyone else has before,” he said. “There is not going to be one extra day added because I wasn’t working hard.”