By Tom Keppeler, Shoulder1 Staff
If one were to look at the risk factors for rotator cuff tears, he or she would find that overhead throwing sports, such as baseball, top the list. Few were surprised, then, when Gil Meche, pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, turned out to have a frayed cuff. Meche, who boasts of a 95-mph fastball, was a rotator cuff tear waiting to happen.
Meche started last season for the Mariners, keeping his earned run average (ERA) to a lower-than-average 3.71.By mid-season, Meche began complaining of a "dead arm" feeling. Thinking that rest would clear up the injury, his coaches benched him. The problem, however, did not go away.
When Meche reported to camp last month, the problem had not improved. Despite work with pitching coach Bryan Pierce, Meche still could not come up with the power he once had. "He was seeing the same thing I was trying to explain," Meche told the Associated Press. "It felt weak, dead, no power." Meche sought the help of Dr. James Matthews, who scheduled arthroscopic surgery.
The minimally invasive procedure found that Meche indeed had a slight tear in his rotator cuff, the thick band of four muscles and tendons that connects the upper arm to the shoulder. Years of throwing heat had forced the muscles to fray. As a result, he could not get the power out of his arm that he once did.
Now repaired and healing, Meche hopes to return to major league baseball by the All-Star Break in July.
For more information about rotator cuff tears, click here.