Despite a thrilling win over the Marlins, there were more hugs than high-fives in the Mets' clubhouse after it was learned that Mike Pelfrey is "99 percent" certain to undergo Tommy John surgery for a small ligament tear in his right elbow.
Pelfrey planned to travel to Birmingham, Ala., Friday to visit with noted orthopedist James Andrews, who is expected to perform the surgery shortly afterward. Before Thursday's game, the Mets' medical staff spoke with Andrews on a conference call, and Pelfrey also discussed his options with team officials and his agent, Scott Boras.
The only suggested alternative to surgery was injections of platelet-rich plasma for the elbow ligaments, which can speed healing, but Pelfrey said the success rate for that treatment is only 10 to 20 percent.
"So there was an 80-percent chance that I was still going to have the surgery," he said. "I thought it was the best case for me if we just go ahead and do it."
By having surgery now, Pelfrey was told he could be pitching in games by March. The question is for whom. His one-year, $5.7-million deal is done after this season, which is difficult to evaluate. He's still eligible for arbitration, but it's unlikely he would be tendered a contract after such an incomplete season.
He had a 2.29 ERA in three starts. If Saturday was his last start as a Met, he went out on a positive note. He allowed a run and six hits in eight innings, but the day's most significant event didn't show up in the boxscore.
After feeling a "catch" in his elbow at the start of each inning, Pelfrey figured it was tendinitis. He was shocked this week when the MRI showed the small tear.
"There was never any pain," he said. "There was a little bit of tightness. I don't know how you describe it, like a grab. It would be the first pitch of every inning and then it would just go away."
Initially, he thought about pitching with the tear. But after talking with Boras and the doctors, he decided it could be more harmful to his shoulder than anywhere else. That was the scenario everyone wanted to avoid.
"My first instinct was I'm going to pitch," Pelfrey said. "But the thing that kind of backed me off was that I could pitch, and me knowing that it's there, I could alter my mechanics and end up hurting my shoulder.
"My shoulder feels great, and I think that's the last thing that I want. The elbow is fixable. But when you get to the shoulder, it's kind of a gray area."