Tommy John surgery patient and horse enthusiast Johnny Cueto just posted to his Instagram account a new update concerning his pitching career:
Cueto had Tommy John surgery on August 2, 2018, making it just shy of nine months since his baseball career was paused. The offseason chatter was that the Giants planned to take it slow with Cueto. Since the team has no expectations of competing for a playoff spot this year, there’s little reason to rush him back.
This generic WebMD Tommy John guideline that I’m going to use here and claim to be 100% accurate for the purpose of making my larger point says that in the recovery timeline, nine months is when “pitchers may throw in competition if they are pain-free and have regained their normal strength and range of motion.”
That comes as the fourth point in the recovery timeline, too. The first point is where Johnny Cueto’s at, according to Instagram. Per WebMD:
About 4 or 5 months after surgery, athletes may toss a ball without a wind-up motion.
Watch that video again. I don’t see no windup. Even in the second video embedded in the post, he’s using his long twist back before going into what’s still a stretch motion. Even still, his normal windup motion isn’t much different. In case you had forgotten what Cueto looks like as a pitcher:
The windup comes into WebMD’s recovery timeline “after 6 months”, so if we take it all together — the nine months since the surgery, the prescribed four to five months of no action and then a windup or full range of motion throwing program after six months — he’s really still in the pre-competition phase.
He still has to return to the mound, and that looks like it comes about three months after the pitcher resumes a throwing program. Game action wouldn’t begin for another two months after that. So, if we look at the full timeline... that’s basically the entire season tied up in getting him into competition shape. Maybe he’ll make some appearances at the end of Triple-A or maybe he’ll pitch in one of the offseason leagues or even the fall league, but it seems very unlikely that Cueto will wear a Giants uniform in 2019.
In the meantime, we’ll have these video updates and the promise of the Johnny Cueto Forever Hat going on sale at the some point this calendar year.