Two weeks ago, the Padres ended Carter Capps’ 2017 campaign after the discovery of a blood clot, a potentially life-threatening condition that required immediate attention. When addressing a blood clot, it’s important to diagnose the most likely cause to prevent subsequent clots from forming. Well, doctors came to a conclusion:
Doctors believe thoracic outlet syndrome caused Carter Capps' blood clot. He'll undergo surgery to address it. He could be ready by spring.— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) September 26, 2017
If “thoracic outlet syndrome” sounds familiar to you, it may be because former Padre Tyson Ross underwent a procedure to address a similar condition nearly a year ago. There is a bundle of nerves, arteries, and veins that travel over the ribs and under the collarbone on their way to the arm. For most of us, this is perfectly fine and never becomes a problem. For athletes who perform unnatural motions at high speed thousands of times in their lifetime, those nerves and blood vessels can become problematic. To address this condition, surgical procedures have been developed that relieve the pressure in that area that may go so far as to remove an entire rib. Carter Capps will soon be the newest member of the club of MLB pitchers to undergo such a procedure.
Tyson Ross has yet to fully recover from his procedure. While he was hopeful to be ready to pitch at the start of the 2017 season, the Padres made a tough decision by declining to offer their former budding ace a contract offer. He was signed by the Rangers to a relatively affordable deal, but his performance never lived up to his income and he was released earlier this month. While Tyson Ross may be a bad example, we don’t have to look so far to find a pitcher who has resurrected his career after TOS surgery. Clayton Richard underwent surgery in February of 2014 and was pitching professionally by the end of the summer. An altered delivery and a new repertoire renovated his game and now has him working as the most extreme groundball pitcher in the game. There’s cause for concern but there’s also reason to hope that Carter Capps will recover and come back as a useful MLB pitcher.
What the future holds for Carter Capps is uncertain. His extreme velocity and unorthodox mechanics put immense strain on his body. He made his return from Tommy John surgery this season to less than desirable results, but it was still promising. Now he is going back to the starting blocks again. On one hand, he knows what it takes to rehab properly from major surgery. On the other hand, he’s not getting any younger and each surgery introduces more unknowns into his future prospects as a major league pitcher. His will be an interesting story to follow. Here’s hoping he can take the mound for the Padres again.