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Waldrop surgery fixes speed, control issues? ’08 minors season over
Ex-Ad had shoulder problem for more than a year

A diagnosis of shoulder tightness has been both a relief and frustration for Kyle Waldrop.

“There was nothing wrong with my rotator cuff or labrum, which is the major part of the shoulder,” said Waldrop, former Farragut High School All-American baseballer now a minor league pitcher in the Minnesota Twins organization, about two month after shoulder surgery that likely ends his 2008 season.

“All-in-all I guess you’d say fairly minor surgery compared to what it could be.”

Waldrop’s surgery, the posterior capsule in the back of his shoulder, took place in late April in Minneapolis after he completed a rough Spring Training in Ft. Myers, Fla. Waldrop ascended to Class AA New Britain for about two months in 2007 before heading back to High-A Ft. Myers.

“My velocity had been dropping for about a year,” Waldrop said. “I’d been pitching with this for over a year. All my pitches started not to do what they were supposed to do. My change-up was cutting instead of sinking like it was supposed to.

“The posterior capsule “was about three times thicker than it should be, which was causing a lack of range of motion,” Waldrop added. “It was extremely stiff, and it wasn’t allowing my arm to finish pitches.

“I knew that there was something wrong, and they had to just go in and pretty much shaved it down to where the normal thickness of it would be, which has given me a lot more range of motion, which I’m already seeing the results of.”

The 25th overall pick in Major League Baseball’s 2004 Draft who earned a $1 million signing bonus, Waldrop said he expects a 100 percent recovery “hopefully” by Spring Training 2009.

While saying he was somewhat apprehensive about surgery, “I realized this problem had been presenting itself for a year or two now, and it could only get worse … I realized that it was the best step for me to take even though I would miss most or all of the year,” Waldrop said. “For the future of my career it would be the best thing.”

Rehabbing at the Twins’ Spring Training facility in Ft. Myers, Fla., Waldrop had begun throwing — but in its simplest form.

“I started just tossing a medicine ball off of a small trampoline … it wasn’t quite a pitcher’s motion, it was pretty much like basketball doing a chest pass,” he said. “If all goes well I will be throwing in seven to 10 days.

“For probably a month now I’ve had good range of motion,” Waldrop added. “There’s still been some inflammation from the surgery that’s not allowed me to do certain stuff and not allowed me to throw yet.

“From compensating from my shoulder my elbow started to hurt as well. So that’s when I had to speak up and tell ’em something wasn’t right. I’d say that was the middle of March.”

A best case scenario?

“I’m hoping that I can get back for Instructional League, which starts in the middle of September,” he said. “Where I can throw in some games, start building up arm strength where I can take that into the off-season and get back to where I was for next Spring Training.”

Waldrop said that upon reflection, “This issue did present itself during Instructional League of ’06.”

At which point Waldrop said he was advised by Twins authorities to quit throwing. “‘Don’t pick up a ball until January [2007] and everything will be fine,’” Waldrop recalled. “From that point on I don’t feel like I’ve been a hundred percent.”

“It was frustrating, especially last year when I did get called up to double-A,” Waldrop added about New Britain, where he pitched in May and June. “It was almost nearly impossible to compete with older, more experienced players not even being close to 100 percent.

“It’s a little frustrating because I think if I had gotten the problem looked at back then, I could be well past it by now and be further along in the system. Some guys can come back from that just by resting and stretching a lot.

“I wasn’t having any pain while I was pitching.”

Waldrop, 22, said his rehab routine has been a grind — including the pain — which starts with “three to four hours” of morning rehab.

“The first couple of weeks was extremely painful — miserable I guess you’d say,” he said of daily exercises and stretching of his repaired shoulder. “It felt like someone was stabbing you in the shoulder. … But it’s really paid off so far.

“It’s very monotonous for the most part, the same thing every day.”

The high school All-American said being out of action with an injury is new career territory, “But it really gives me the desire to get back out there.”

If healthy, Waldrop likely will start post-Spring Training 2009 at the High-A level in Ft. Myers.

By the end of 2009? “I don’t want to set my goals too high, especially first year off surgery,” he said. “I would just like to be up in New Britain for at least half of the year next year, and finish the season in New Britain.

“If you can pitch well in Double-A you can pitch well in the big leagues.”

By 2010, Waldrop doesn’t rule out moving all the way up to Minnesota.

However, “They’ve got a lot of pitchers in the organization, they’re not going to rush me,” Waldrop said.

“When I look at the big picture I’m still pretty young in the organization. … I’m still kinda right on pace with my age where I should be.”


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