Fittingly, the opening in the Dodgers' starting rotation that was created by a Tommy John surgery is being filled by a Tommy John surgery success story.
Rubby De La Rosa will have the surgery early next week. He won't return until August or September next year.
Nathan Eovaldi will replace him in the rotation, making his major league debut on Saturday against the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers officially announced the decision after their 7-4 win over Arizona on Friday night.
Eovaldi's story is different than those of most pitchers but is becoming less unusual. He had the surgery in 2007 during his junior year at Alvin High in Texas.
Yes, in high school.
Dr. James Andrews, who will perform the surgery on De La Rosa, said a few years ago that from 2004 to '07 he performed the surgery on 588 pitchers, including 146 who were in high school or youth league players.
"I never had any arm problems in high school or anything," Eovaldi told Chattanooga TV station WDEF earlier this year. "(The injury came) just kind of out of nowhere. Just threw a pitch, and it didn't feel right. ... I was back on the mound in like seven months. No problem at all. Still to this day, I don't have any problem with my elbow."
That's good news for De La Rosa as he prepares for surgery and the long rehab. His injury came out of nowhere on one pitch as well.
De La Rosa will be joined by Carlos Monasterios, who had the ligament-replacement surgery a couple of weeks ago. They will rehab together at the Dodgers' spring training complex in Arizona.
Plenty more on the Dodgers' pitching staff can, and already have, shared their experience with the elbow surgery to De La Rosa.
Closer Javy Guerra did the rehab in 2005, when he was inspired and motivated by Hong-Chih Kuo, who was working back from his second Tommy John surgery. Guerra called De La Rosa to share his experience and provide optimism.
More optimism can be found in Eovaldi's career.
Now 21, Eovaldi returned from the elbow surgery in time for his senior season. He already had committed to Texas A&M before the surgery. The Dodgers selected him in the 11th round of the draft, convinced him to forgo the scholarship, and watched his innings carefully in the minors.
This year, Eovaldi is 6-5 with a 2.62 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) for Double-A Chattanooga. He has struck out 99 in 103 innings, allowed just three home runs, walked 46, and the Southern League is hitting .203 against him.
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.