Rocky Cherry: No Worries

Rocky Cherry was afraid when doctors told him he'd need "Tommy John" surgery after suffering a torn ligament--he feared he might never pitch again. Now that he has had time to digest the situation, and since doctors have assured him he can return 100 percent healthy, Cherry tells Inside The Ivy his worries are over.

Cherry, 25, is scheduled to undergo the surgery today in Chicago. He made three starts for Double-A West Tenn this season, allowing three earned runs in 9 1/3 innings. In his last outing on April 21, the right-hander threw just eight pitches before he felt the ligament tear. He said the ordeal was frightening in the beginning, but that there are no worries now.

"It was pretty painful," Cherry said. "The pain didn't get to me as much as the thought of everything that was going on in my head ... that I may have thrown my last pitch. I was a little flustered and a bit scared, but I talked to the doctors and they think I can come back strong."

This isn't the first time Cherry has had to make an uphill climb as the result of an arm injury. While pitching in the Big XII Conference for alma mater Oklahoma during his 2002 senior season, Cherry suffered a partial tear to a similar ligament that also sidelined him.

He was selected by the Cubs in the June draft later that year, but was not signed until next January when the organization had time to evaluate whether Cherry was healthy or not.

"This (injury) felt a lot worse," Cherry said. "It was in the same area as the one I dealt with at Oklahoma, so I was pretty positive it was torn just from the way it felt. In the past when I had the strained ligament, I was still able to throw. This one was a lot more painful, so I kind of figured ‘Tommy John' would be needed. When I went up (to Chicago) and got the MRI, that was what I was expecting to hear.

"If I'm going to have surgery, I'd rather have ‘Tommy John' than any other, because you can come back stronger. I'll make it as good as it can be."

Cherry said the first time he experienced arm problems at Oklahoma, he never thought about the injuries recurring later on down the road in his career.

"This is almost like a freak accident," he said. "It's very unexpected. It seems that every time things are going good, something always happens."

The OU alumnus has gotten plenty of support from the organization that was hesitant to sign him three years ago.

"They realize the chances of me coming back strong are a good possibility," Cherry said. "Especially with my work ethic, they don't doubt that I'll come back stronger. They're as positive as they can be, because they see a possible future with me helping out the club."

Cherry went home for roughly a week after he learned he'd need the season-ending surgery. As with most pitchers who undergo the procedure, he will likely miss a year or more. But don't worry about the Dallas native being down on himself while he waits to pitch again. Cherry has plenty lined up to keep himself busy for the next several months until he can begin rehabbing in Mesa.

"I'm going to be working with my dad out here in Arizona," Cherry said. "This past week I've been hanging out, enjoying almost what feels like a vacation. In a couple of weeks, I'll be taking jobs and bidding them for dad, who is a commercial bank contractor. That's what my degree is in: Construction Science. I'll be estimating jobs and bidding on them."

Cherry's surgery will be performed by Dr. Michael Schafer.

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