Chat with Tom Candiotti
Moderator (4:29 PM)
We'll be getting started momentarily.. continue to use the form below to submit your questions.
Moderator (4:32 PM)
We'll be starting in approximately 5 minutes... thanks for your patience.
Tom Candiotti (4:41 PM)
I am here and ready to go!
Matt (Roxbury, N.J.)
Tom, great to see ESPN employing knuckleballers! I wish more big league clubs would. My question is this: Were you a hard thrower before the operation? And following the surgery, did you develop a knuckler because they supposedly don't put much stress on the arm? Keep up the good analysis.
Tom Candiotti (4:43 PM)
First of all, I never was a real hard thrower. My rep prior to the surgery and a few years after was a fastball, curveball, slider and change .. I liked to move the ball around. I had always thrown a knuckleball, even in Little Leagues. My first three years in the Big Leagues I was up and down, up and down. Sal Bando saw me throwing the knuckle in Spring Training and sent me down to work on it. All of a sudden I was top rotation guy. It really had nothing to do with the surgery.
Ted Williams DNA
Is it possible for a pitcher to gain velocity after TJ surgery?
Tom Candiotti (4:44 PM)
Yes, it's true. There have been guys who have actually thrown harder than pre-surgery. One of the reasons is during the operation, they actually tighten the ligament up. It makes your joint as stable as you can get. When you have a real stable joint, it can withstand more force.
how long is the avarage recovery period after TJ surgury
Tom Candiotti (4:46 PM)
It took me about two full years to feel like I was full strength and really snap off a curve ball. There are little stages you hit along the way but it's about two years. Guys I've talked to that have had it done recently get back on the mound after a year but they don't really get to 100 percent to a year and a half or two years. But I had it done in 1981 so it took a little longer back then.
Were you surprised at how quickly Brandon Claussen came back from TJ surgery?
Tom Candiotti (4:48 PM)
I'm not familiar with how quickly he came back. But some guys have tried to come back too soon. Darren Dreifort has had the surgery twice and he just tried to push it a little too quickly the second time. You always want to play it safe.
Do you agree with teenagers having TJ surgery?
Tom Candiotti (4:49 PM)
I don't. I think it's unfortunate that a teenager would even have to have that surgery. That probably means his throwing hasn't been monitered very well by his coaches. Also, sometimes your arm is not fully developed in your teens. It can take time for your bone plates to develop. I wouldn't recommend a surgery until much later.
Dikembe Mutombo (Cape Cod, MA)
How long is the actual surgery?
Tom Candiotti (4:51 PM)
When I had mine done, I was knocked out. Things have changed a lot though. The surgical techniques are improved and there is more data. Medical procedures have changed quite a bit. When I had it, it was probably about 1.5-3 hours. Nowadays it is probably much quicker. They know EXACTLY what they are doing now. They are very precise.
Do you think Wakefield can keep pitching like this into his mid-40s?
Tom Candiotti (4:52 PM)
Yeah. One of the things about Tim is he keeps himself in very good shape. That is important. He would have a better chance if he stays in the starting rotation. Juggling between starting and being in the pen takes its toll. If he can stay in the starter role consistently, he can do it.
Tom, good afternoon, what is the rehab procedure, I mean, intensity, duration, etc., thanks a lot-keep up the great work
Tom Candiotti (4:54 PM)
It's very difficult. One of the things Dr. Jobe or whoever is performing the surgery will tell you, is that is is a very simple procedure but the hard part is the discipline involved in the rehab. You have to be very patient. Everyone reacts a little differently. You have to err on the side of caution. When youthink you can do something, it's best to hold off a wait a few days. You have to start with finger pushes and squeezing a ball and you graduate to the hand grips. You are basically starting from scratch. It just takes a lot of time and discipline.
Hi Tom, why don't we see many knuckleball pitchers anymore? It seems like if a team could get a good knuckler who also has a solid fastball and good control, it'd present problems for opposing teams.
Tom Candiotti (4:56 PM)
It's a question I get asked a lot. It's unfortunate. A lot of clubs could benefit from having a knuckler. He gives the opposing team a different look and guzzles up innings. One of the reasons you don't see them is scouts are all about the radar gun. If you don't throw 90 MPH you probably won't get drafted. It's very hard to transform a maximum effort pitcher into a knuckball pitcher. A guy like Randy Johnson or Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens.. they put everything into every pitch. It's hard to do that throwing a knuckler and be consistent.
Vin Baker (Coors, CO)
After a player has two TJ surgerys should the player retire or continue to try to pitch?
Tom Candiotti (4:57 PM)
Well, modern medicine has come quite a way. Considering how much money is at stake, guys will always try the surgery and if it works he will be right back out there. If the player isn't motivated to rehab anymore, then he needs to retire. But if he still wants to be out there, he should be.
Steve (Walnut Creek)
Tom, glad you're talking about this because I've always wondered: has there ever been a case where the surgery wasn't successful?
Tom Candiotti (4:59 PM)
I think there is. I'm not aware of many of them. In the infancy of the procedure, the only guy that had come back from it was Tommy John himself. Jobe told me he performed 8 operations and only 1 guy came back. Today, they have the technique down to a tee, so usually the only way it doesn't work is something happening during the rehab process where someone is trying to come back too fast.
Tom, since Kerry Wood has had the surgrey he cant throw the slurve but has a better curveball. Why cant he throw that anymore.
Tom Candiotti (5:00 PM)
I didn't really notice any change in my pitches. It took time for my curve ball to come back, because it puts more stress on the joint. The slurve, guys usually throw that as a maximum effort pitch, across the body. A curveball is easier on the arm than a slider.
Jim (Stewardson, IL)
You did a great job in the movie 61*! Tell us about your experience with your role in the film.
Tom Candiotti (5:02 PM)
I had a blast! Billy Crystal called me up and asked me to portray Hoyt Wilhelm. He explained the rule that Hoyt had in 1961 .. he wanted to make the movie as realistic as possible. After auditioning over 100 knuckleball wannabe's, he gave me a call. I went there and filmed for about 7-8 days in L.A. The fun thing about Billy, he is such a baseball guy. He really loves his Yankees. We would play catch and hit the ball around. We had a blast.
When you knew the surgery was still very experimental, what was your main motivation to have it done in '81
Tom Candiotti (5:03 PM)
When Dr. Jobe gave me the odds in coming back, 1 in 8, and asked if I was a prospect, I had thoughts about going back to college and going after another line of work. I contemplated it for 3-4 days. Baseball was my dream. I wanted to give baseball every chance in the world to work for me. I didn't mind the obstacles.
Charlie Hough is the only knuckleball pitcher I can think of who has become a pitching coach. Any interest on your part?
Tom Candiotti (5:05 PM)
I really wouldn't mind it. One of the things that help me, I wasn't just a knuckleball pitcher. I was a pitcher that threw a knuckleball. One of the problems, it's a lot of hours and a lot of time away from home. I have two young boys that I want to spend as much time with as possible. Maybe on down the road.
JK, New York
I assume you pitched against Bonds, McGwire and Sosa? Do you recall letting up any HR's to any of them?
Tom Candiotti (5:11 PM)
Absolutely. One of the funniest stories .. I knew Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonds. Even before Barry made it to the bigs, he would talk trash way back then. He always said he was going to take me deep one day. Then one day he hit a line shot at Candlestick and it went out of the park but hit a pole and came back in. The umpire only gave him a double. I had my glove over my mouth looking at Barry just laughing .. after the game, Barry put his arm around my mom and wife and said "You knew that was gone!". McGwire got me several times so yes, I did add to his HR total. So when Barry goes to claim the HR title, rest assured he should have done it 1 HR earlier. Thanks for all the questions.. I would lobby for the people who have made this operation possible and kept such great players in the game, I think more than anything, that is why Tommy John belongs in the HOF and it's a no-brainer that Frank Jobe belongs in the HOF. Thanks again for the great questions. We'll do this again sometime.
SportsNation on Facebook
THIS WEEK'S CHATS
- 11:00 AMNoleNation's David Hale
- 12:00 PMNFL with Dan Graziano
- 1:00 PMCubs, Sox with Levine
- 1:30 PMMichael Wilbon on NBA Finals
- 2:00 PMBoxing with Brian Campbell
- 2:00 PMNFL blogger Kevin Seifert
- 2:00 PMNASCAR with Terry Blount
- 3:00 PMFantasy's Stephania Bell
- 3:00 PMGolf columnist Bob Harig
- 4:00 PMHornsNation's Strickland
- 4:00 PMNFL with James Walker
- 11:00 AMFantasy's Eric Karabell
- 12:00 PMNFL with Matt Williamson
- 12:00 PMDawgNation's David Ching
- 12:00 PMMusician Darius Rucker
- 1:00 PMNBA Insider Chad Ford
- 1:00 PMMMA with Brett Okamoto
- 2:00 PMSweetSpot's Schoenfield
- 3:00 PMNHRA's A. Brown, C. Force
- 3:00 PMFantasy NASCAR Focus
- 4:00 PMGatorNation's Mike DiRocco
- 4:00 PMNFL blogger Mike Sando
- 5:00 PMWeAreSC's Garry Paskwietz