MIAMI — Jacob deGrom’s mysterious right elbow injury finally has an actual public diagnosis: a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, team president Sandy Alderson said Tuesday.
Alderson repeatedly downplayed the severity of the issue, which in the worst cases requires Tommy John surgery — an operation that deGrom had as a minor-leaguer in 2010.
He framed deGrom’s condition as "a very low-grade thing" that is no longer a problem.
"The ligament is perfectly intact at this point," Alderson said. "Whatever condition existed before, it’s resolved itself."
In describing the Mets’ approach to deGrom’s rehab, Alderson referenced not knowing "the origins of the pain and/or sprain" — a word team officials had not previously used. A sprain is a stretching or tearing of a ligament. He called it "the lowest grade partial tear, if you will."
For more than a month, the Mets have described deGrom’s injury as mere inflammation. Acting general manager Zack Scott, who was suspended following his drunk driving arrest last week, said on July 30: "There’s no ligament damage."
Alderson said he did not want the new information of deGrom’s partial UCL tear — perhaps the most famous injury in baseball — to be a big deal.
"At this point, the sprain has resolved itself," said Alderson, who joined the team in Miami as he assumed Scott’s duties. "The elbow is, at this point, perfectly intact based on the MRIs and our critical evaluation through our doctors. That’s just a technical term the doctors have used. We don’t use it routinely, but it’s another term for a very mild ligament condition.
"Look, somebody goes out with a headline that it’s a partial tear — that’s what a bruise is. A bruise is a partial tear of the muscle, OK? So let’s not go out there and write as if this is anything new. It’s not. It’s a very low-grade thing that has resolved itself."
DeGrom’s potentially historic season — featuring a 1.08 ERA in 15 starts — was derailed by six separate injuries. He most recently pitched on July 7. Whether he will do so again this year is "still very much up in the air," Alderson said, but the Mets are trying to make it work.
"By ramping him back up, what we’re trying to do is recreate that ache, that pain if you will, to see what his threshold is, and hopefully it doesn’t get replicated," he said. "That doesn’t mean we’re just going to ramp him up until it breaks, that’s not my point. My point is we need to begin to see whether this is more of a chronic issue that relates to mechanics in some way. But the more we know going into next season, the better off we’ll be.
"Don’t expect that he’s going to get ramped up higher than, say, 75 percent before we have an idea of where this is going."
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