By Erin K. Blakeley, Shoulder1 Staff
It’s always bad news for a team when it loses one of its pitchers to an injury. It is even worse news when it loses two pitchers.
That is exactly what happened to the Tampa Devil Rays when they lost Juan Guzman and Wilson Alvarez last season. Both pitchers were victims of rotator cuff tears that required surgery.
But after a lengthy rehabilitation process and months in training camp, it looks like Guzman and Alvarez are ready for assignments in the minor leagues. The two pitchers combined for a five-hit shutout against the Toronto Blue Jays training team.
Alvarez told the Associated Press “I am getting close to where I want to be." The left-handed pitcher struck out six, and gave up only three hits in five innings of play.
Guzman had two hits, one walk and two strikeouts, and also reported positively to the Associated Press. “I felt great. No soreness. I feel free throwing.”
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons that connects the muscles of the upper shoulder to the bones. The cuff functions to allow the muscles to lift and rotate the humerus, or the upper arm. When the tendons or muscles of the rotator cuff tear, a person in unable to left or rotate the arm with the same range of motion as before the tear. The loss of mobility depends upon the severity of the tear; a fully torn rotator cuff will severely hamper range of motion, whereas a partially torn rotator cuff will affect the range of motion to a lesser degree.
Rotator cuff tears are often painful, particularly when the person lifts the arm or shoulder or tries to lift heavy objects. Rotator cuff tears often result from injuries associated with falling on an outstretched arm, or lifting or catching a heavy object. They are also associated with overuse, which might be how a pitcher like Alvarez or Guzman suffered the injury.