Many hospitals are postponing surgeries that are considered to be non-life-threatening at this point due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but does that same principle apply to Major League Baseball players? It doesn't seem that way.
A few notable pitchers need to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair their elbows, including Boston's Chris Sale, New Yorks' Noah Syndergaard and San Francisco's Tyler Beede. They'll miss the entirety of the 2020 season, but if they don't get the surgery sooner rather than later, the 2021 season could be in jeopardy as well.
One of the nation's leading Tommy John surgeon, Neal ElAttrache, defended players having the surgery even though COVID-19 concerns are growing.
“I know that I’m going to get criticized for taking care of these kinds of guys, but it’s essential to their livelihoods,” ElAttrache said. “If you have somebody’s career at stake and they lose two seasons instead of one, I would say that is not a non-essential or unimportant elective procedure.”
Of course not any player can undergo surgery at this time, and ElAttrache insisted he's being selective with who enters the operating room.
“We’re trying to select players so we don’t overtax the system,” ElAttrache said. “We have to have some criteria. We don’t want it to be arbitrary. We want the public to trust what we’re doing. If we didn’t have some criteria for selecting patients, we easily could be accused of bias for non-medical reasons and lose the public trust.”
The surgeries that are in question are performed in private clinics, not hospitals crowded with coronavirus patients at the moment.
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An asterisk indicates that the final out was recorded by a pitcher whose team did not win the World Series.