Brett Tomko was having one of the best stretches of his 13-year career when he suffered an arm injury in the final inning of a complete-game shutout of the Rangers on September 14. The outing made him 4-1 with a 2.95 ERA in six starts for the A’s after being released by the Yankees, but Tomko had to be shut down for the final three weeks of the season with a pinched nerve that just recently healed enough for him to begin throwing again.
Tomko told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the recovery process has been “very, very slow” because “it was a really bad injury.” He added that the nerve damage caused his arm to atrophy to the point that a therapist said his “biceps was like lumpy gravy.”
Here’s more from Slusser:
Tomko still gets what he called “electrical shocks” in his forearm, and doctors told him the area could be numb for a year. That hasn’t stopped him from resuming throwing, and Tomko is hoping to sign with a team before or possibly during spring training. He has a few standing offers for minor-league deals … but he is aiming to be throwing off the mound by early March and he figures if he is throwing well and teams have a need by that point, perhaps he will find a big-league opportunity.
Tomko caught a tough break with the injury, but not being able to pitch down the stretch actually allowed him to post an ERA below 4.00 for the first time since he was a 24-year-old rookie in 1997. Prior to joining the A’s late in the season he had a 5.23 ERA in 20.2 innings for the Yankees, and before that Tomko was 4-12 with a 5.55 ERA in 2007 and 2-7 with a 6.30 ERA in 2008. In other words, the 37-year-old right-hander was a poor bet to have success in 2010 even before his arm turned into something you put on top of mashed potatoes.
In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.
In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.
Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.
If any team can turn a six-day rest period into an advantage, it’s the Indians. The club polished off their pennant race with another injured starter and an overtaxed bullpen, as Trevor Bauer exited in Game 3 of the ALCS with a laceration on his right pinky finger, leaving the bullpen to shoulder 16 innings through the last three games of the series. On Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that injured starter Danny Salazar could rejoin the rotation in the World Series, though he’ll need at least one more simulated game before Terry Francona determines whether or not he’s fit to return for the team’s last postseason push.
Bauer, who has been under the close watch of hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, told the press that he feels confident that he’ll be ready for a World Series start when the final showdown commences on Tuesday. Keeping the wound bandaged is not an option during games, and Bauer said that Dr. Graham decided against additional stitches to keep the laceration from re-opening. Instead, they’re banking on extra days of rest to heal the cut naturally. Should Francona pencil the right-hander into the lineup for Game 3 or 4, he’ll have had 10-11 days to rest his finger between starts — just a hair under the seven games Bauer said he was prepared to pitch.
Salazar, too, has been preparing for a World Series showdown. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings of a simulated game this weekend, and if it goes well, it could land him a spot in the starting rotation alongside Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, and newcomer Ryan Merritt. Salazar has been sidelined since September 9 with a right forearm strain, and even after undergoing a rigorous throwing program over the last several weeks, any kind of comeback is expected to be curbed by a strict innings limit. Francona has been understandably tight-lipped about his World Series roster, but he hasn’t yet nixed the idea of utilizing Salazar out of the rotation, provided the right-hander remains healthy for another week or so.
The Indians have had to remain flexible throughout their seven-game playoff run after weathering injuries to Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, pushing their rotation through several games on short rest and relying heavily on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s one-two punch in the ‘pen to clinch more than a few postseason victories. While history doesn’t always favor the first team to secure their league’s pennant race, an extra week of rest should only benefit Cleveland’s beleaguered pitching staff.