CINCINNATI — Surgical instruments keep intruding into the catching life of Devin Mesoraco. Over the past two seasons Mesoraco has faced more surgeons and doctors than he has opposing pitchers.
Mesoraco, the No. 1 draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2007, underwent his third surgical procedure in 13 months Monday morning in New York.
All three procedures have been on different parts of the body — the latest one was to repair the labrum in his right hip That gives him a matched pair. He had the labrum in his left hip repaired last June. And in early May of this season he had the torn labrum in his left shoulder fixed.
Clearly, the 27-year-old native of Punxsutawney, Pa., is running out of labrums to repair.
THE LATEST PROCEDURE, performed in New York by hip specialist Dr. Bryan Kelly, the surgeon who did his other hip, is expected to prevent Mesoraco from doing any catching activities until mid- to late-January. That probably means he won’t be ready to play by the start of the 2017 season.
The surgery Monday was labeled preventative and has nothing to do with any injury.
“It was a preventative issue rather than an issue that was there,” said manager Bryan Price of Monday’s operation.
The big questions, of course, is about Mesocraco’s future and whether a young player who has had surgery on both hips can endure the rigors of catching in the major leagues.
“I have not been told by anybody that he is at risk from these surgeries,” said Price. “Certainly we’d like to see him stay healthy and stay on the field and start to put together the types of seasons we know he can perform. But we have to get him healthy first.
“It is a crapshoot with anybody
who plays professional sports. You are going to deal with injuries,” Price added. “Unfortunately with Devin they’ve come one after the other. Hopefully he is putting all this stuff behind him and is getting ready to roll off some nice successful and healthy seasons.”
TEAM MEDICAL DIRECTOR Dr Tim Kremchek, who observed Mesoraco’s surgery, was optimistic about Mesoraco’s future after watching the surgery and talking to Dr. Kelly. And, yes, the surgery was preventative.
“He had a little bit of the symptoms in the right hip early this season and once he had surgery on his shoulder we talked about about addressing that right hip,” said Kremchek. “We knew he had problems, but it hadn’t shown up yet. At some point in his career, and Dr. Kelly said it was 100 per cent, that this would end up bothering him and he would need the surgery. So we did and he definitely had a labral tear and it he had similar changes to those he had on his left hip. Bone spurs had to be taken off.”
And about his future, Dr. Kremchek said, “We’re very optimistic. With how he progressed from the surgery on his right hip I’d be very optimistic. I think it is going to give him a spring in his step, make it easier to squat down and do certain things that he never recognized he could do so easily. This is going to make him a better athlete, a better catcher and things will be less stressful on his body.”
Kremchek is even on the ‘up’ side of when Mesoraco can return, believing he’ll be ready by Opening Day. “He’ll be ready to do catching things in January and spring training starts earlier next year (due to the World Baseball Classic), so he’ll be able to just fine-tune everything and I anticipate he’ll be ready when the season starts.”
MESORACO PLAYED ONLY 23 games last year (45 at bats) and played only 16 this season. He has hit .158/.245/.200 over those 39 games the past two years.
Before the surgery theaters intervened, Mesoraco enjoyed an outstanding 2014 season, during which he hit .273/.359/.534 with 24 home runs. As a reward the Reds signed him to a four-year $28 million deal but he hasn’t been able to do much with his hands since he used the right one to sign the contract.
ON A BRIGHTER NOTE, disabled pitcher Tim Adleman threw 25 pitches in the bullpen Monday and reports no ill-effects to his oblique, which landed him on the disables list.
Before that, Adleman threw four scoreless innings over the weekend on rehab for the Class AAA Louisville Bats.
“It is nice to get back out there and throw and not feel anything or have any awareness of the injury,” said Adleman. “It was nice to get out there and worry about executing pitches as opposed to thinking, ‘OK, how is this feeling? Is it going to pop again?’”
With the demotion to Louisville of starter John Lamb, manager Bryan Price has mentioned Adleman as one of the team’s many options to fill the one start needed by somebody before the return of Homer Bailey off the disabled list.
ASKED IF HIS RECOVERY period was longer than expected, he said, “It was. I wasn’t sure how long it would take. I wasn’t sure 100 per cent how long it would take, but given that it was diagnosed as a mild sprain, I was pretty optimistic,” said Adleman. “I know with obliques if you try to rush them back it can come back to bite you. So it has been longer than I thought.”
Alderman, 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in four starts, last pitched on May 19, only 3 1/3 innings in a 7-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
The 28-year-old right hander is a delightful story, a tale of a guy who wouldn’t quit after the Baltimore Orioles released him in 2012. No major league organizations lit up his cellphone so he tried independent ball.
The Florence Freedom, just across the Ohio River from Great American Ball Park released him, but he hooked on with the El Paso Diablos, then the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Can-Am League and caught the attention of the Reds.
He spent 2014 and 2015 in Class AA and was impressive enough during spring training this year when the Reds developed a need in the rotation he was given a chance. And he may yet get another.
WHEN ASKED ABOUT the upcoming rotation and who will replace Lamb, Price said, “No decisions yet, but we will tweak it. There are some ideas that (pitching coach) Mack Jenkins and I have discussed. We are not going to rush Homer Bailey back. He will be activated when he is ready to pitch.
“There are some guys currently in our system, on the 40-man roster, and Adleman has thrown four innings and 64 pitches. I’d prefer not to do that unless he is healthy. Keyvius Sampson could start because he is stretched out. We want to take a look at all our candidates and make a good decision because most likely it will be only one start.”