If misery does indeed love company, Michael Kopech has found plenty in the Chicago White Sox’s clubhouse.
Diagnosed with “a rather significant tear in his ulnar collateral ligament,” according to general manager Rick Hahn, Kopech is facing Tommy John surgery that is expected to sideline the prolific starting pitcher until spring training 2020.
Just to stay on the safe side, the 22-year-old righty is going to get a second opinion before having his throwing elbow repaired.
Three current Sox pitchers – Lucas Giolito, Jace Fry and Aaron Bummer – had Tommy John surgery and came back strong.
Giolito and Kopech are locker neighbors in the White Sox’s clubhouse.
“I talked to him about it yesterday plenty,” Giolito said Saturday. “For him it’s just about … there are kind of two sides to it, the way I see it. You have the physical side and the mental side.
“The physical side is obviously getting the surgery, recovering, getting to physical therapy, getting your routine set for the physical side of the recovery process, which is getting your range of motion back. And then just getting with your PT, getting with the training staff and just hammering out the little mundane exercises you have to do every day just to get your arm right.
“Then the mental side is once you get through all that, which in of itself is kind of a mental grind because you’re doing all these things that you never really had to do before, and that can be boring and at times uncomfortable.
“You get over that part, you start throwing again, and there’s going to be times where you have scar-tissue releases. There’s going to be times when your arm doesn’t feel good on a certain day, but you just push through it because it’s part of your throwing program. Especially once you get through all that and get through your first full season, you’re going to have games where your arm doesn’t feel good.
“You’re going to have bits of stretches where there just might be some scar tissue there that’s bothering you, but you just keep pushing through it. It’s a pretty long process, but I think the biggest thing is just being mentally tough through it all.”
Kopech was understandably down after getting the bad news Friday, but he was rising back up Saturday.
“Life happened,” Kopech wrote on his Instagram account. “The 2019 @whitesox are going to surprise a lot of people and I can’t wait to see that. It’s gonna be a long journey but I’ve never backed down from a challenge & don’t plan to now.”
Kopech also leaned on Fry after getting the bad news. The White Sox’s left-handed reliever has come back from two Tommy John surgeries.
“[Kopech] came in here and it was like, ‘Hey, I need the surgery done.’ He accepted it,” Fry said. “He was already talking about who he was going to see for the surgery and where he wanted to do his rehab and stuff like that. The fact that he has already progressed into the surgery situation, he’s on the right path.”