Saturday, August 13, 2016

Brantley To Have Season-Ending Right Shoulder Surgery

i wish i had better news to report. let me just cut to the chase and give it to you like i'm ripping off a band-aid--quick and painful. Michael Brantley's rehab attempts are officially over now because today, on August 13, Terry Francona announced that he will need to have another surgery on his right shoulder, which will ultimately end his 2016 season. it's scheduled for Monday, August 15 at TMI Sports Medicine in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Keith Meister and Dr. Mark Shickendantz will both perform the operation of which the specifics were not yet released.

8/13/16, photo courtesy of Chuck Crow via The Plain Dealer

i feel so bad for Michael. he worked incredibly hard every day to get back to the big leagues as soon as possible and i know he is disappointed with this outcome. and the question remains: why do bad things happen to good people?

when Francona conducted his daily pregame media session this afternoon, he stated, "Dr. [Keith Meister] and [Dr. Mark Shickendantz] are going to do the surgery. when there's a time to explain what they did and how they did it and all that, James [Quinlan] and the medical people will do that, but that's what we have.

"part of the issue is when it started to hurt him was when he'd get in the batter's box. and he was going to that machine and he was cranking it up. like, you'd walk in there and see him hit and you're like, 'man, he can play tonight.' but then, when he got off the live pitching is when he felt it. so, you can't just stop him and say, 'rest,' because then he could go through the whole winter and feel great, and then they start playing the games in spring training and it'd crop up again. that was a lot of the dilemma in this thing."

"i'm not sure how you can eliminate [any risk of a setback]," Tito admitted. "the way i understand certain points, when he starts to get fatigued, it's almost like he gets a blister on the inside on one of those things. if you tell me how to stop that, i'll do it. i just don't know how to really do that. sometimes, you go into somebody's shoulder, you go into somebody's knee, it's just, things happen."

"when he came back from Texas that time, i thought we were going to get him back in about 10 days," the Indians skipper confessed. "i guess i figure that all the work, it'll pay off somewhere. it may not be this season, but i don't think those things go unrewarded. i just think that he'll come back and he'll find a way to be as good as ever. i firmly believe that, because i believe in him. i get a front row seat to see how hard he works and things like that. i just think he'll find a way to come back and be just as good as he ever has been."

(big thank you to Zack Meisel's article, T.J. Zuppe's article, and Jordan Bastian's article for all the information.)

i didn't see another surgery coming, but to me, a shutdown at this point was inevitable. i'll get to my thoughts after i RECAP how this all came about.

when Michael initially had right shoulder surgery for his labral tear on November 9, 2015 in Wilmington, Delaware, Dr. Craig Morgan said he wouldn't be able to swing a bat for FOUR months. that meant he couldn't touch a bat until March 9, when the Indians would be in the midst of their Cactus League games. however, on February 17, the first official day of spring training, we find out Michael's taking non-contact swings in the batting cage. besides that, Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo told everyone that Michael had already been taking dry swings prior to this. i definitely had reservations when i heard that, and i didn't think it was a smart idea. him saying his shoulder felt good didn't sway me, i was still concerned that his shoulder hadn't fully healed yet and wouldn't be strong enough to tolerate baseball activities. and i think what happened in the next month proved as much.

on March 17, Michael played his first game--an intrasquad game with the minor leaguers--and got two at bats. then he played in two spring games with the Tribe on March 19 and 21. things seemed to be going well for Michael until it was unveiled on March 23 that his shoulder wasn't bouncing back after games like they'd hoped. and so he had his first setback, temporarily stopped his rehab, and opened the 2016 regular season on the 15-Day DL.

when Michael got clearance to begin a rehab assignment, he played a total of seven games with two of our minor league teams--the Triple A Columbus Clippers and Double A Akron RubberDucks--spanning from April 12-23. was that enough at bats after missing virtually all of Cactus League play? probably not, but everyone was so eager for Michael to return and figured he could continue getting his repetitions with the big league club. he was activated from the disabled list on April 25 and appeared in his first Major League game that night as a late inning pinch hitter. after that, Michael started and completed 10 games through May 9, including four straight from May 3-6. red flag raised.

everybody but the Indians apparently saw that that was way too much, too soon. how could you expect someone who barely played in spring training and only played seven games on an April rehab assignment to be able to play that many games in a row so quickly? predictably, Michael began to struggle and went 0-for-4 in what was to become his final game of 2016 on May 9. the following day, it was reported that, once again, Michael's shoulder wasn't bouncing back in ideal fashion. he had what was first described as shoulder fatigue before consequently going back on the 15-Day DL on May 14 with right shoulder inflammation, only to never come off it. that'd be setback #2 if you're keeping count. he saw his surgeon, Dr. Morgan, in Delaware on May 17, was diagnosed with a subacromial impingement, and received an anti-inflammatory injection. after a one-week shutdown period, he was permitted to resume a rehab program.

while recovering and trying to work his way back from the impingement, setback #3 emerged in June. Michael started by taking dry swings, then hitting off a tee, then advancing to flip toss and building up the volume of his soft toss program. once the intensity increased, he experienced discomfort in his shoulder again, but this time it turned out to be right biceps tendinitis. he was given a cortisone shot on June 21 in Dallas, Texas from Dr. Keith Meister and then was shut down for five days.

Michael began hitting off a tee at the end of June and started overhand BP in early July before he was transferred to the 60-Day DL. the move changed nothing in terms of his recovery and rehab schedule, it simply changed his activation eligibility date to July 9. Michael continued to make progress and felt great, so he went through a normal pregame program, including batting practice on the field, on July 5. then, when the rest of Major League Baseball went on their All Star Break, Michael started his minor league rehab assignment. he played in four games, every other day, between July 11 and 17. he played one game with the short-season Single A Mahoning Valley Scrappers, one with the Single A Lake County Captains, and the last two with the RubberDucks.

unfortunately, news broke on July 18 that Michael had been shut down and Francona updated on July 19 that he was feeling discomfort in his shoulder at the end of his swing. there's setback #4. after two MRIs, he underwent a hydrodissection procedure in an attempt to break up the scar tissue along his right biceps tendon on July 21, performed in Cleveland by Dr. Jason Genin (of the Indians' medical staff). Michael rested for three days and then hit off a pitching machine for the remainder of the month.

on August 3, Michael progressed to hitting off live pitching. because the Indians went on the road shortly after that, no more updates came until August 8, when it was revealed that Michael's comeback had stalled because he was feeling discomfort yet again in the follow-through of his swing. setback #5. he went to New York City to see Dr. Stephen O'Brien, who confirmed Michael had chronic right biceps tendinitis. then on August 13, after all four doctors who've seen and treated Michael this year consulted, they decided to go ahead with another unspecified surgery, effectively ending any chance Michael had of resuming his rehab program and rejoining the Tribe this year. and that's where we stand today.

Jordan Bastian provided a more concise injury timeline (though i do believe his date for the hydrodissection is incorrect because Paul Hoynes' article on claimed it occurred on July 21):

photo courtesy of @MLBastian on twitter

i find it somewhat odd that they aren't saying what the surgery is. then again, it's possible that they might not even fully know at this time. it could be a situation where they're just gonna go into the shoulder, see what they find, and then determine what needs to be done from that point. but that's merely a guess on my part.

i will post a new blog after Michael has his surgery and the details of it have been disclosed.


as someone who's been documenting Michael's progressions and regressions literally every day since his surgery, i have a few things to get off my chest.

i'm not going to come right out and say the Indians mismanaged Michael upon his April return, but the evidence kind of speaks for itself. Terry Francona stood by his notion that Michael did not come back too early when he was activated on April 25 and that's not the reason he suffered the subacromial impingement setback. on the contrary, once Michael's shoulder wasn't bouncing back well after the last few games he played in on May 8 & 9, Tito did declare, "i'm kind of kicking myself a little bit. i think we might have gone a little too far, too much, too fast. i didn't want to do that and i think we probably did." i assume he was referring to when Michael played in those four straight games from May 3-6, as well as six games in one week. THAT, in my opinion, was obviously too much. i had a bad feeling about it in my gut then and believed it undoubtedly caused the shoulder inflammation/subacromial impingement. but by the time Francona figured that out, it was too little, too late.

maybe it wouldn't have even come to that had things gone differently during his offseason recovery. what if they really had waited a full four months after Michael's surgery before clearing him to pick up a bat? had he just only started swinging a bat in March instead of playing in games, would that have made a difference? would he be playing now instead of awaiting his next surgery? it's hard to say but i certainly would have liked to have seen things play out that way. regardless, if a doctor says you need four months to heal, you should take a full four months off. the only thing he should have been doing during that time was his PT and shoulder strengthening exercises.

i get it, Michael started his rehab early because he continued to make progress in his recovery and they kept allowing him to advance in his rehab because Michael said he felt fine. but how many times in life has somebody said they were fine but they really weren't? OR, how about someone saying they feel fine and can do something, but it's against better judgment to actually let them do that particular thing?

let me give a specific example that's easier to understand. say you go to the doctor because you have a cough and the doctor gives you an antibiotic. the directions say to take the antibiotic for two weeks even if you start feeling better after a couple of days. in Michael's case, metaphorically speaking, i feel like they may have let him "stop taking his medication" before he was truly better. and that could be why he is where he's at now--in need of another surgery. maybe it's a ridiculous theory, maybe this was going to happen no matter how slow Michael took his rehab. i don't claim to have any insider information. but i won't hide the fact that i disagree with the "swiftness" in which some things were handled. and i'll leave it at that. i don't mean to disrespect the medical team that Michael's worked with, but it's my opinion and i'm entitled to it.

and to the people who want to say, "well i guess all those rumors about Michael's shoulder injury being more serious than they thought and him missing significant time this year were true," get off it. there was no way anybody knew or had concrete evidence earlier in the season that Michael would make several attempts to come back and have all the setbacks that he did. nobody predicted this, it was merely unwarranted gossip. and anyone else with something mean or negative to say about Michael can kick rocks.

this is all just so unfortunate and i never thought it would come to this. i stayed positive after his November surgery and truly believed he'd be okay and return sometime this season. i took it for granted that Michael would go through his rehab, come back, and be his usual outstanding self. i did not anticipate how rough his road to recovery would be, and i'm deeply sorry that his shoulder discomfort kept recurring every time it seemed as though he was close to returning to the Indians. even amid those setbacks, i kept hope alive, but now it is gone. now, i really feel awful for him.

furthermore, i'm absolutely devastated that the Indians are most likely going to be playing in at least one October playoff series, if not more, for the first time since Michael's been an Indian and he won't even get to be a part of it. he's gonna be left out of everything and won't experience or contribute to any of it. i'm battling within myself not to be upset, but it's hard. and i can only imagine how upsetting it's going to be for him, even if he says otherwise publicly.

good luck Monday and get well soon, Michael, but take your time healing this time around please!!!

if you want more details about everything that's happened to this point, here are all the update blogs i've written since Michael's November 9, 2015 surgery:
Brantley Has Right Shoulder Surgery, Will Miss Start of 2016 Season
What Is Labral Tear Shoulder Surgery?
Brantley News From the 2015 Winter Meetings
Brantley Confirmed For Tribe Fest 2016 + Health Updates
Brantley News & Shoulder Rehab Progression Through January 2016
Brantley's February 2016 Shoulder Updates & Hitting Program News
Brantley's March 2016 Hitting Advancements (Soft Toss to ON THE FIELD BP!)
Brantley To Open Indians' 2016 Season On 15-Day DL
Brantley's 2016 Spring Training & In-Season Rehab Details
Brantley's 2016 Cactus League & Minor League Rehab #s and My Expectations
Brantley's April 2016 #s
Brantley Placed on 15-Day DL with Right Shoulder Inflammation
Brantley's May 2016 #s + DL Updates
Brantley's June 2016 w/ DL Updates
Brantley Transferred to 60-Day DL
Brantley's First Half 2016 #s w/ DL Updates
Brantley's July 2016 w/ Rehab Game Details

i'm gonna take a day or two to process this. after (i post) his surgery (blog), once my emotions have settled down a bit, i will post my two blogs about Michael's 2nd DL stint of the year, including an overall DL Updates blog from May - August and a break down of his (July) rehab game numbers.

in addition, i of course will tweet/retweet any and all updates i hear about Michael for the rest of the season, so make sure to follow me @clevelandgirl23 so you don't miss anything. i am also going to continue posting monthly blogs with health updates and cumulative blogs until the 2016 season concludes. to get alerts when i post them, you can subscribe to my email list on the right side of the blog.

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