Jasson Dominguez’s injury saga unfolds with a grim timeline

Jasson Dominguez
MLB
Michael Bennington
Monday September 11, 2023

Table of Contents

The Yankees dream of Jasson Dominguez suffered a rude jolt on Sunday. The medical evaluation revealed that the rookie has suffered a torn UCL in his right elbow, a setback that is expected to sideline him for the majority of the upcoming season. This unfortunate turn of events forced Jassob Dominguez to be a last-minute omission from the lineup on Sunday, initially attributed to what was then believed to be an elbow inflammation.

According to Aaron Boone, Jasson Dominguez had been experiencing elbow soreness dating back to his initial series in Houston. However, it didn’t affect his performance at the plate until he began his batting practice on Sunday.

The anticipated recovery timeline for the rookie Yankees star is around 9 to 10 months.

Boone expressed his thoughts on the matter after the Yankees secured a victory against the Brewers on Sunday. He mentioned that Jasson Dominguez had informed him of experiencing soreness as early as their last game in Houston. At that time, the Yankees hadn’t placed much significance on it, as the problem hadn’t appeared to significantly affect his performance.

However, during his batting practice session on Sunday, Jasson Dominguez encountered difficulties in generating power or hitting the ball with force. Consequently, he was brought in for testing during the game, and the results indicated a torn UCL.

The 20-year-old had an impressive beginning to his major league journey, hitting four home runs in his initial seven games. He assumed the centerfield position for the Yankees, a team currently evaluating potential contributors for the 2024 season.

The New York Yankees had ambitious goals for “The Martian” in the coming month, particularly focusing on enhancing his understanding of the MLB grind. Although Jasson Dominguez possesses immense power, he has encountered challenges in areas like baserunning and other metrics during his time in the lower levels of the game.

Jasson Dominguez responds to a roll call by Yankees fans on Sept 5, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

Boone emphasized the importance of situational awareness, highlighting how Jasson Dominguez’s reactions on the bases were being evaluated. He mentioned that this assessment didn’t solely pertain to base stealing but rather encompassed an awareness of factors such as the defense’s positioning, reading the game situation, understanding when to tag, and similar nuanced aspects. Additionally, considering Jasson Dominguez’s role in center field, Boone was interested in observing his communication dynamics with players like Aaron Judge on his right and Everson Pereira on his left.

What is a torn UCL, the injury that Jasson Dominguez has?

The UCL, short for ulnar collateral ligament, is situated along the inner side of the elbow, commonly referred to as the pinky or medial side. This ligament complex extends from the upper arm’s humerus bone to the forearm’s ulna bone. Comprising three distinct bands or divisions—the anterior (front), posterior (back), and transverse (across) bands—the UCL plays a crucial role in maintaining the elbow’s stability. Among these divisions, the anterior band holds particular significance in preserving the elbow’s stability.

In the context of baseball players, the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) assumes a critical role in their throwing motion and is frequently linked to Tommy John surgery when it becomes completely torn. Tommy John Surgery involves using a tendon sourced from another part of the body or a donor to serve as a replacement for the damaged UCL. The procedure includes creating tunnels in both the ulna and humerus bones to secure the new tendon graft. In some cases, remnants of the original ligament may be affixed to the graft to reinforce its strength.

The extent of Jasson Dominguez’s injury remains uncertain, but it has the potential to sideline him for a significant portion of the offseason, if not longer. Regrettably, it’s highly likely that his current season has come to an end.

Boone openly expressed his disappointment for Jasson Dominguez, admitting that he was “crushed.” In a wise addition, he further remarked, “He’s a young man, and these setbacks tend to work themselves out. This is but a fleeting moment in the broader context of what we envision as a promising and enduring career.”

How much time will Jasson Dominguez take to return?

Jasson Dominguez responds to a roll call by Yankees fans on Sept 5, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

Jasson Dominguez has not yet finalized a surgical schedule. However, the standard recovery period for a torn UCL typically spans from 9 to 10 months. This projection implies that his potential comeback may fall in the midst of the upcoming season, possibly around June or July. Given Jasson Dominguez’s youth and his potential as a valuable middle-of-the-lineup hitter in the long run, it is anticipated that the Yankees will exercise caution during this sensitive period. They intend to reintegrate him into play at their own pace, prioritizing his well-being over any rush to return him to action.

It’s important to emphasize that Jasson Dominguez is a position player, not a pitcher. When a pitcher sustains a torn UCL, and the subsequent Tommy John surgery is almost inevitable, it represents a genuinely disheartening diagnosis. While it’s not as career-ending as it was four decades ago, it still significantly shortens a pitcher’s career, often robbing them of up to two years during their prime playing years.

Should Jasson Dominguez necessitate Tommy John surgery, it’s worth noting that position players often make their comebacks within a relatively short timeframe of nine to 10 months. This implies a potential return around June or July. Some players exhibit remarkable healing capabilities; for instance, Bryce Harper recovered in just five months, initially as a designated hitter and later as a first baseman after his procedure. Another example is Shohei Ohtani, who might undergo a second Tommy John procedure but managed to return in as little as six months, resuming his role as a designated hitter after his initial surgery.

While position players don’t often require UCL reconstruction surgery compared to pitchers, there are situations where it becomes a necessity. Paul Molitor made history as the first major league hitter to undergo this procedure. Typically, the average recovery time for a position player is approximately 11 months. Recent cases provide valuable insights: Didi Gregorius made a surprisingly quick return in just under seven months, while Corey Seager missed nearly a year, primarily due to the timing of his surgery, which happened on the same date five years prior. His early-May surgery prevented him from returning until after the postseason had concluded. Salvador Perez’s situation is notable as he endured a lengthy 15-month recovery, compounded by his surgery in March 2019, followed by a baseball-less March in 2020.

Gregorius struggled to regain his previous form after the injury, whereas Seager needed a full year of playing time to rediscover his rhythm, although his post-surgery batting statistics closely mirrored those from before. Aaron Hicks, after his own surgery, transitioned from a regular presence in the lineup to a perpetual fourth outfielder.

Conversely, Travis d’Arnaud staged a remarkable comeback and began fulfilling the potential he had displayed as a prospect; his hitting improved significantly after his return. Perez experienced the two best offensive years of his career in the two seasons following his surgery. Gleyber Torres received a new UCL a year before his major league debut and proceeded to deliver exceptional performances for two consecutive seasons.

Jasson Dominguez hits a home run against the Brewers at Yankee Stadium on September 09, 2023.
NYY

Nonetheless, it’s an immensely disheartening day. Jasson Dominguez, all by himself, had injected a glimmer of hope into the Yankees’ season, which otherwise was on track for its first underwhelming conclusion since 1992. His remarkable start included four home runs within his initial seven games. His left-handed swings at Yankee Stadium evoked genuine joy among Yankees fans, who envisioned him taking aim at the short porch in right field for potentially the next 15 to 18 years. His prowess in the field was equally impressive.

At just 20 years old, Jasson Dominguez is in good health, and the path ahead remains a limitless expanse of potential. Considering the circumstances, the news could have certainly been more grim.

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