Vines could be back by June 1

Chris Vines had Tommy John surgery ten months ago. He could be about ten days away from leaving Extended Spring Training and joining a team, probably the Rome Braves. Back in March Vines talked with Bill Shanks about his recovery and his rehab from the major elbow surgery.

SHANKS: What was the date of your Tommy John surgery?
VINES: July 18th.

SHANKS: So where are you now (late March)?
VINES: I've thrown my fourth bullpen at fifty percent. I hope to be ready sometime in May. That'll put me at about ten months. I've been pretty fortunate. My arm feels great. It's gaining a lot of strength.

SHANKS: How long had you had elbow discomfort?
VINES: It was necessarily discomfort, but the power just wasn't there. There was no explosion coming out of my ball the way I had it in high school. Paul Snyder noticed it. It just wasn't exploding the same way the last couple of years. My stuff really never got better. I got better competitive-wise, but my stuff never got better. So I think this could be a really good thing. Dr. (James) Andrews thinks this is going to be a really good thing.

SHANKS: So now you've gotten it out of the way, and you have to almost be relieved that it's behind you now.
VINES: As soon as I went up to get my MRI the Braves wanted me to rehab it and I told them we knew there was a problem there. I said let's go get it done and try to see if I can get back and get some innings this year.

SHANKS: What's the toughest part of the rehab?
VINES: The longevity of it. It's just a long process. I had five months in Birmingham at Dr. Andrews' place. I've been down here (in Orlando) since January. I've still got two more months. It's just a long process.

SHANKS: It's a long process and sometimes slow progress, right?
VINES: A lot of people that come back from injuries try to rush it. You've got to be patient with it. Soon as you're ready, you'll know you're ready.

SHANKS: You were doing so well last season.
VINES: Yeah we were having a lot of fun. That team was good. We had some good players.

SHANKS: What is your goal for this season – when you get back?
VINES: I'd like to get 75 or 80 innings in this season. That's my goal. I think this is a blessing in disguise. I needed to get stronger. I've always been competitive, but the stuff was just different. I was topping out at 87 mph the last couple of years. But to me the hardest part of the game is to learn how to compete, and I learned how to do that. Now I've just got to let my stuff carry me.

SHANKS: You were around 6'2" when you signed and you are now four inches taller. Do you have to almost learn how to pitch in your new body since you've gotten this much bigger?
VINES: The coordination is a big part of it. I've asked a couple of the taller guys. You're not use to your body being so long. Your legs are longer. So you have to adjust a bit.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at

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