Sunday marked the final day of the Red Sox annual Winter Weekend at Foxwoods Resort Casino, and pitcher Drew Pomeranz was one of many players to attend the festivities. Most of the athletes often talk to the media on these days about a new workout method they’ve been trying or their excitement for the upcoming season, but Pomeranz opted to give a huge update on the elbow issue that plagued him in 2016.
The 2016 All-Star explained that after the Red Sox were defeated by the Cleveland Indians and eliminated from the playoffs, he received a stem cell shot in the elbow/forearm area. Pomeranz noted, that "we just looked at ways to speed up the process of getting ready for this year."
There was a lot of drama surrounding Pomeranz’s elbow after he was traded to the Red Sox in July, for top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza. The San Diego Padres had opted to hide some of the lefties medical information, which included that Pomeranz was taking anti-inflammatory medicine for his elbow during the season. Once the Red Sox figured out this had happened, it created a tough situation due to Drew’s struggles and the team’s urgent need for pitching in a pennant race. Despite this early warning sign, Boston opted not to reverse the deal as they continued their march towards the playoffs.
Even though Pomeranz had been scuffling early on, it was tough to part ways with a young arm that dominated the first half of the season. Across 17 starts in San Diego, Drew posted a strong 2.47 ERA with a 10.1 K/9 and a 5.9 H/9. Not to mention, the former reliever wasn’t having any trouble going deep into games. He was showing the ability to be a true top of the rotation starter. Since there were very few arms available on the trade market, it was obvious why Boston coveted Drew so much.
Pomeranz would make a total of thirteen starts in fourteen games for Boston, and he consistently underperformed. The former first-round pick registered a 4.59 ERA, while allowing fourteen home runs and a 9.2 H/9 in 68 and 2/3 innings. Not only was Drew struggling to limit runs, but he also couldn’t eat innings effectively.
At the very end of September, Pomeranz was scratched against the Yankees due to forearm soreness. This issue ended up leaving Drew in the bullpen, as he made one appearance in the regular season and two in the playoffs. The initial issues he dealt with earlier in the season, were seeming to pop up once again.
When a pitcher begins to struggle with forearm soreness, it’s tough not panic because it is often a precursor to Tommy John surgery.
Surgery was never something Pomeranz considered though. The stem cell shot he received is supposed to “promote healing”. In order for this method to be performed, Drew had bone marrow taken from his hip bone and it was then injected into the area where he felt pain.
Many pitchers who have been in a similar place as Pomeranz, have chosen a platelet-rich plasma injection as their choice for rehab. When talking about the overall process behind choosing the shot, Drew explained that “Stem cell's more experimental, I guess you'd say. I've heard guys doing it, especially a lot this year. It seems to be a better alternative to PRP”.
Heading into 2017, Pomeranz said he’s “feeling great” and that he’s “ready to go”. Drew has a tough battle awaiting him in spring training though, as he attempts to win one of the two remaining spots in the starting rotation.
If he can recapture what made him so dominant in San Diego, Pomeranz has the ability to make this Red Sox pitching staff an even larger threat in the American League. But if his arm doesn’t properly heal and it continues to cause issues, the Red Sox may be just prolonging Drew’s eventual need to have Tommy John surgery.
On a positive note, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski mentioned that Pomeranz and the Red Sox were close to agreeing to a one-year deal and avoiding arbitration today. It’s a great move for both sides, since there won’t have to be any bad blood created while enduring a hearing process.
The Drew Pomeranz storyline in Boston will be quite interesting to follow this season, as he tries to prove his worth to the Fenway faithful.