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Gradual Process For Betances
He struck out another seven in his very next outing and from there it seemed as if everything began to derail, particularly his health.
"I finished strong last year and that first start [this year] was really good," Betances said. "I actually felt like my delivery was good and my changeup was good, but once my elbow started feeling bad everything went down the drain. I'm not going to blame my performance on that though."
Betances, who admits he battled a nagging elbow pain pretty much the whole year, proceeded to post a 5.83 ERA in his next seven starts before the Yankees shut him down in late May.
"There was one game in late May - well actually there were a few games where it gradually started hurting so then I said something and I took some time off," he recounted.
He took three weeks off to rest the ailing elbow and returned again for an abbreviated three-inning start on June 14th. The pain, getting gradually worse, required him to miss a start and make what ultimately would be his last start of the season ten days later.
"And then I came back again and it still bothered me," he added. "After that I went to see Dr. Andrews and he said to take four weeks off to let it heal correctly.
"Then after four weeks I started throwing and it didn't get any better, that's when we decided to go with the procedure."
When it was all said and done, Betances finally received Tommy John surgery on August 27th.
"I ended up having Tommy John [surgery]. I needed the surgery. The ligament wasn't completely torn so they repaired that one and then they added the one from the wrist. So I have two ligaments now."
Currently rehabbing his way back at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, Betances, who plans on remaining at the complex all offseason, does feel a sense of relief that his consistent elbow problems should now be a thing of the past.
"After the surgery Dr. Andrews said everything went well," he said. "I know I'm a hard worker and there's a good chance everything will come back stronger.
"I've been having problems with my elbow for a while and I just want everything to be healthy, feel good and be pain-free. Dr. Andrews did tell me that if I work hard that I could come back earlier than other guys so that made me feel better."
The plan right now, however, doesn't allow him to resume throwing a baseball again until December 16th and if all goes according to schedule, with no setbacks, he could start seeing some game action in Extended Spring Training.
"Dr. Andrews did tell me that I could pitch in eight months," he revealed. "I'm just going to work hard and if I could pitch in eight months that would put throwing [in games] in late May or June.
"I'm just trying to work hard and rehab strong because I don't want to miss out on all of next year. I do feel like I have a chance to pitch [next season], it would just be late, middle or late next year."
Realizing that rehabbing back from Tommy John surgery is a gradual process with many steps, he can't help but keep in mind the desired end result.
"If I can pitch pain-free then I'll be happy," he said. "I'll have the chance to get back to where I was or even stronger, that's something I'd definitely like."
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