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Hudson Goes Under The Knife

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Tim Hudson may have been hoping for a miracle but that hope was not rewarded. The Braves’ ace right-hander went under the knife for Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on Friday. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery, which is officially called ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. The procedure replaces the damaged ligament (which is on the inside of the elbow) with a tendon from elsewhere on the body (most commonly the forearm) with a success rate of around 85%. The surgery has a rehabilitation period of around a year for pitchers, which means that Hudson will mist most of ’09 at the very least with a pretty good chance that he’ll be sidelined for the entire year. The right-hander is owed $13 million next season with a $12 million option for the 2010 season. I’m not sure of his exact situation, but it is likely that a significant portion of the money owed to him next year will be covered by insurance, improving the chances of Frank Wren targeting a big-name starter on the free agent market. The other news coming out of Dr. Andrews’ office on Friday has to do with Rafael Soriano, who has previously undergone Tommy John surgery. Soriano was told that his elbow discomfort was not a result of structural damage and that he could begin a throwing program as long as he didn’t any more discomfort. That is the good news for Soriano, who has made three trips to the disabled list this season. The less encouraging news is that if discomfort continues, Soriano could need exploratory surgery to determine if there is a problem with his ulnar nerve. The nerve, which is commonly referred to as the “funny bone” controls sensation to the pinky and half of the ring finger along with the part of the palm that corresponds to those fingers. The nerve can become entrapped, which causes a tingling sensation and can be incredibly painful. If that happens, surgery to move the nerve away from the cause of the irritation (Chris Reitsma underwent the procedure in ’06) could be necessary. With the Braves out of contention, it seems likely that Soriano sit out the rest of the season.
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