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The road to recovery

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By Summer Santangelo
News Editor

It is a hot summer afternoon with the sun shining, meaning it is a perfect day to go out to a baseball game and enjoy America’s pastime with some friends. But, as fans arrive, their favorite player is not in the game.

Instead he is injured and might be out for the season. In the sports world this is not an uncommon scenario anymore, especially in baseball.

Cuesta baseball player Austin Amante is struggling with an injury first hand.

Over the last 18 years there has been a steady increase in injuries in the MLB, according to a study done by the American Journal of Orthopedics.

One specific injury is seeing the largest increase – the tearing of the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow. This ligament connects the tissue of the upper arm to the inside of the forearm and about 25 percent of major league pitchers have torn it, according to the study.

The surgery to repair the torn ligament is referred to as Tommy John, named after the first major leaguer who underwent the surgery in 1974. The recovery time is approximately 17 months and many who receive the surgery do not fully return as the same pitcher they were before.

Amante, standing at 6-feet tall, has been recovering from Tommy John for over a year now, and still has a long way to go.

Amante started his collegiate career at UC Davis where, six weeks into the fall season, he tore the UCL in his elbow.

His time at UC Davis ended abruptly due to his injury, turning Amante to Cuesta with the hope of them offering him an environment to complete his rehab.

He had thrown in five scrimmages for Cuesta during the fall season and had little to no trouble during those outings, Amante states.

So when he decided to make a brief one inning appearance at Cuesta College’s annual World Series, he did not think anything of it. Until he felt the same pull and sharp pain is his elbow, Amante continued.

“I felt a pull in my elbow and I immediately got off the mound and walked straight to the dugout not being able to throw anymore anymore do to severe pain,” Amante said.  

After this setback he went to the doctors to find out that had partially re-tore his UCL and would need a second Tommy John surgery, which would ultimately end his career, according to Amante.

Instead he got a procedure done called platelet rich plasma, where doctors extract blood from the body, taking the healing properties of the blood and injecting it into the torn tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints to promote healing.

Amante is currently trying to defy the odds by recovering and returning next year to join Cuesta’s baseball team.

“I know I have a long way to go, since I have injured it again after the surgery but I hope I can recover,” Amante said.