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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Parnell says surgery '50-50' chance

By Adam Rubin

NEW YORK -- Bobby Parnell indicated Thursday that team doctors have told him it is “50-50” whether he will require Tommy John surgery.

The injured closer added that he may make a decision about whether to have surgery in two weeks -- not wait the full six weeks that includes a throwing program Sandy Alderson laid out Wednesday.

That’s because Tommy John surgery has a 10- to 14-month recovery time, and Parnell wants to ensure he does not affect his availability for 2015 if he needs to proceed with the ligament-replacement surgery.

“I want to make sure if I do have surgery I give myself the best bet to get back for next year and have the recovery time,” Parnell said.

Parnell was dispatched for an MRI of his pitching elbow on Tuesday’s off-day after blowing the save on Opening Day. He was diagnosed with a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament.

Because the tear is in a thick part of the ligament, doctors believe he may be able to have it heal without surgery via platelet-rich-plasma therapy. In that process, blood is drawn and spun in a centrifuge. The platelet-rich portion is then injected into the troublesome spot to facilitate healing.

“They felt like I had a good chance of coming back from it from where the tear is,” Parnell said. “They’re going to try it. If it doesn’t work, then the surgery is there. If it does work, then continue pitching. ... It’s a relatively new treatment, and they’re fairly optimistic that it can work.”

Last year, Parnell waited to undergo herniated-disk surgery. The difference, he noted, is that waiting before proceeding with the herniated-disk surgery did not compromise his 2014 availability.

“I think last year I rehabbed it because I felt like I had time to try to rehab it,” Parnell said. “If I need to have [Tommy John] surgery, it’s a 10- to 14-month process for recovery. I’ve got to make a wiser decision in a more timely manner, I feel like. I feel like I obviously have a couple of weeks to see if this thing works or not. Ultimately, I’m going to have to make a fairly quick decision on what I want to do.”

Parnell said he had been seeking treatment with team trainers for several days for what he believed was muscle tightness, but it was not alarming to him because it was on the backside of the arm, not the inside, where he felt the ligaments that require Tommy John are located.

The training staff had been loosening his arm with ultrasound and massage. On Monday, they suggested undergoing the MRI the following day as a precaution because the team was in New York and Mets doctors were at their immediate disposal.

“I just went and said, ‘Hey, let’s get this loosened up. Let’s try some treatment,’” Parnell said. “It worked, so I kept pitching. They said, ‘We’re in New York, let’s try some precautionary stuff. Let’s figure out what we’re dealing with as far as the arm.’ ... They made the right decision.

“Toward the end of spring training, just a couple of days before the season started, I had what I thought was some muscle soreness. As a pitcher, it’s muscle, you keep going. It wasn’t even my idea to get the MRI. I was going to keep pitching. The training staff asked me to do it as a precautionary thing. Here we are today.”