The Yankees are banking on starting pitcher Corey Kluber to be fully healthy for the first time in two years.
A highly respected orthopedic surgeon believes they have plenty of reason to believe the injury that limited Kluber’s 2020 to just one inning will be a thing of the past.
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Kluber — who took a one-year deal expected to be worth about $11 million from the Yankees on Friday — spent the offseason recovering from a Grade 2 tear of the right teres major muscle, which he suffered last July.
“Something like this, you could be optimistic that the likelihood of a re-tear is very low,” Dr. Armin Tehrany told NJ Advance Media in a phone conversation on Wednesday night.
Tehrany called the tear “unusual.” The teres major is near the shoulder joint but isn’t part of the rotator cuff.
Tehrany hasn’t treated Kluber or seen his medical records, but he has extensive knowledge of the type of injury the 34-year-old endured. Tehrany is the found of Manhattan Orthopedic Care and serves as Honorary Surgeon for the New York Police Department.
Tehrany believes Kluber, a two-time Cy Young winner with a career 3.16 ERA, should be fine.
“Think about this as a kind of tear that should do very well within a few months” of rehab, Tehrany said of Kluber, who also missed most of 2019 after a line drive fractured his right arm.
“This is plenty of time, and also remember that longer time doesn’t necessarily mean greater severity. I would be optimistic.”
Tehrany added, “Could it bother him again? Sure. But when the right amount of time is spent in rehab and the player is compliant, the likelihood that it is a career-ending injury is extremely low.”
The Yankees have yet to make Kluber’s deal official. It’s unclear whether he’s passed a physical with the club.
But they should know more about Kluber than just about any other team. Kluber spent the offseason working out with Eric Cressey, who runs the Yankees’ strength and conditioning program. Kluber held his throwing session for scouts at Cressey’s facility more than a week ago. The Yankees came away impressed enough to strike a deal with the three-time All-Star.
Tehrany said he believes Kluber has been in good hands.
“That is not to be underestimated,” the doctor said. “The type of resources these players have and the motivation that they have to be compliant is so high that they have a chance to do extremely well as opposed to those who get similar tears in the layman population, the spectators or the nonprofessional athletes, who don’t have the time.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t say that he does have to be re-evaluated and cleared by his team doctor, who is excellent,” Terhany said, referring to Yankees physician Dr. Chris Ahmad. “Once that happens, I’d feel very confident that he should be fine.”
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