Baseball

White Sox pitcher Connor Sadzeck, Crystal Lake Central grad, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery

Seattle Mariners catcher Tom Murphy (left) and relief pitcher Connor Sadzeck, a 2010 Crystal lake Central graduate, embrace after Sadzeck got the last out in the Mariners' 9-2 victory over the White Sox on April 6 last season at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Seattle Mariners catcher Tom Murphy (left) and relief pitcher Connor Sadzeck, a 2010 Crystal lake Central graduate, embrace after Sadzeck got the last out in the Mariners' 9-2 victory over the White Sox on April 6 last season at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Connor Sadzeck’s 2020 baseball season has been far less affected by the COVID-19 pandemic than his major league counterparts.

The 2010 Crystal Lake Central graduate already knew his season would be spent rehabilitating his right arm after a second Tommy John surgery in October.

Sadzeck, 28, is a few weeks away from starting his throwing program. He is going through physical therapy and working out in Farmington, New Mexico, where he lives with his wife, Kendra, and their 6-month-old Siberian husky, Jack.

Major League Baseball hopes to be back in some form by July 4 with an 82-game schedule and expanded playoffs, if details can be worked out about the coronavirus and safety issues with players and fans.

“[Not missing games] is a positive thing at this point,” Sadzeck said in a Zoom interview Friday with the Northwest Herald. “Everybody’s missing a year, or whatever the season ends up being. It doesn’t change my plan, I’m not doing anything differently at this point, so that’s a positive.”

Sadzeck signed a two-year deal in the offseason with the White Sox, who knew he was injured and would spend this season doing rehab. Sadzeck had his first Tommy John surgery, a procedure to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow, in 2014. He came back 18 months later feeling stronger and with added velocity.

Sadzeck's fastball was topping 100 mph after his first recovery from Tommy John. He eventually made it to the major leagues with Texas in 2018, then with Seattle last season before he was injured. He tried rehab, a cortisone shot and workouts away from the Mariners but eventually had his second surgery in October.

“It was different from the first time around,” Sadzeck said. “They fixed it, but they also did what they call an internal brace. There is a foreign piece in my elbow. It’s like a mesh material. The best way to describe it is it’s like a 2-millimeter flat shoelace around the fixed ligament.”

Sadzeck is scheduled to begin his throwing program in June. That will last for about six months, then he hopes to be able to compete in the 2021 season.

“I definitely had the ability to sustain higher velocities [after the first surgery],” Sadzeck said. “Coming out of surgery, I was high 90s and hitting triple digits. It wasn’t just a miracle surgery. I worked pretty hard and got a lot stronger and put on a lot of muscle. The silver lining to sitting out a year is it kind of lets you do that.”

Sadzeck has been able to work out at his physical therapist’s facility when he is not there on official visits.

“I’m pretty much full go on lifts and everything,” Sadzeck said. “I have full range [of motion], and I’m getting the itch to pick up a baseball, for sure.”

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