Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs has scrapped his goal of pitching in a minor league game this season, opting instead to give himself a full 18 months to recover from Tommy John surgery.
The 23-year-old left-hander underwent the elbow reconstruction procedure Aug. 13, 2014, cutting short a solid season in which he went 5-5 with a 4.30 earned-run average in 18 starts, striking out 86 and walking 30 in 113 innings.
It takes most pitchers 12 to 18 months to recover from Tommy John surgery, and Skaggs felt so good in spring training that he said he would like to pitch in a game by late August or September and then possibly pitch in winter ball after this season.
But many pitchers who try to return from Tommy John surgery in 12 months suffer setbacks, and seeing how well New York Mets ace Matt Harvey pitched in his first game after giving himself 18 months to recover from the procedure factored in Skaggs’ decision to not push himself this season.
Harvey, who injured his elbow in late August 2013 and missed all of the 2014 season, allowed four hits in six shutout innings against the Washington Nationals last week, striking out nine and walking one.
“I’m going to try the Matt Harvey program,” Skaggs said. “Seeing how he pitched was very encouraging to me. It looks like nothing ever happened to him, and that’s exciting for me because I feel the same way.”
Skaggs threw for eight weeks in February and March, took two weeks off and is in the third week of a six-week throwing program, having extended his long toss to 115 feet. He hopes to begin throwing off a mound by the end of June.
“I feel good,” he said.