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.