ANAHEIM -- Six innings, that's it. That's all that Andrew Heaney will throw in 2016. Six innings.
The decision made Thursday afternoon did not come easy for Heaney or the struggling Angels. The 25-year-old southpaw who was destined for the top-end of the rotation for this season and others to come will now be looking at Tommy John surgery as his only option for recovery.
Heaney took to Twitter to express his feelings towards the decision, and a reasoning as to why it was his last resort;
"Over two months ago, after seeing the best doctors across the country, I was given news that I had suffered a partial tear to my [ulnar collateral ligament]. Each doctor diagnosed me with a different degree of severity to the tear. They told me that I could either try bone marrow stem cell injections to attempt to let it heal quicker or opt for Tommy John surgery. It was an excruciating decision for me because I love my teammates, playing the game, and competing against the best in the world. I chose stem cell injections in the hopes to avoid surgery and return to the field sooner. It did not have the impact we had hoped and I have decided to undergo [Tommy John] surgery tomorrow. I have worked extremely hard to get to where I am today and don't plan on doing anything different on my journey to returning to the Angels' ball club. I appreciate all the people who have shown me continued support through my high's and low's. This may be the lowest, but I'll be back better than ever. Go Halos! - Heandog"
Following his first start of the season, Heaney expressed that he felt tightness in his forearm and was immediately placed on the disabled list with what was called a "left flexor muscle strain." Within the next few weeks, Heaney re-started his throwing program, but could not find ease in pitching, and was shut down. Doctors soon told the southpaw that he had a slight UCL tear.
Heaney explored his options, and found stem cell therapy to be his best route in returning to the field promptly. In early May, Dr. Steven H. Yoon, a doctor at Kerlan-Jobe Orthapedic Clinic in Los Angeles, injected stem cells from Heaney's bone marrow into the UCL.
On Monday, Billy Eppler told media that the healing process was not progressive. Following some tests, Heaney still felt the tightness and discomfort in his elbow, and the decision was made.
Via the Angels' Twitter page;
"Based on the lack of progressive UCL healing in Andrew's case, coupled with discomfort upon testing the ligament while throwing, we have concluded that Tommy John surgery is the necessary course of action. Andrew will undergo surgery tomorrow in Los Angeles with Dr. Neal ElAttrache handling the procedure."
Instead of a return to the mound, possibly in August, possibly in September, Friday, July 1st, will become the first of many days of recovery to hopefully get Heaney back on the mound by the end of the 2017 season.
Friday, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who works as a physician with the Los Angeles Dodgers, will perform Tommy John surgery on Heaney's left elbow to repair the ulnar collateral ligament. Something that will take 15-18 months to recover from.
Six innings, that's it. That's all that Andrew Heaney will throw in 2016. Six innings.
Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, <a href=www.twitter.com/taylorblakeward>@TaylorBlakeWard</a>.