Dodger’s relief pitcher Grant Dayton is out for at least a year after injuring his elbow. MRI results confirmed that Dayton suffered a full tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. The left-hander will need a ligament replacement surgery to repair the injury.
Dayton was warming up to come in as relief pitcher in an August 18 double-A Tulsa game when he heard a pop in his elbow. He immediately knew what had happened. He was not surprised by the injury because previous MRIs showed that his UCL was in bad shape. At the time of his last MRI he decided to continue to play, arguing, “…if it’s in bad shape and it doesn’t present any pain, who cares?” Dodger’s manager Dave Roberts was also aware of Dayton’s elbow issues and factored that into how often he pitched this season. The team had placed Dayton on the disabled list twice during the season due to recurrent neck stiffness. He was in Tulsa for rehabbing his neck when the elbow injury occurred.
Dayton, who routinely pitched 95 mph in his rookie season last year, failed to throw at the same level this season. He also struggled with a higher ERA and a lower strikeout ratio than last year. Dayton is disappointed with seeing his season come to an end, “I felt like I’ve had an up-and-down year. I was hoping to be able to redeem myself in September” Dayton’s surgery is scheduled for August 29. Team doctor Neal ElAttrache will perform the surgery. Recovery could take 12-18 months.
While anyone can suffer from a UCL injury, pitchers are at the highest risk to develop UCL tears. This is because the repetitive motion of throwing puts extreme stress on the ligaments. After excessive use, the tendon can begin to tear and lengthen to the point where it can no longer hold the bones tight enough. The surgery, commonly called the Tommy John surgery, involves replacing the injured ulnar collateral ligament with a tendon from somewhere else in the patients body.