The nation’s leading Tommy John surgeon believes his signature baseball operation is non-essential, at least during the global coronavirus crisis.
Dr. James Andrews temporarily suspended performing Tommy John elbow surgeries at his medical facility in Gulf Breeze, Fla., citing governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order delaying elective medical procedures.
“We are not performing any non-urgent or non-emergent procedures, including Tommy John surgery, in compliance with the governor’s executive order,” said a spokesperson for Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in a statement to the Boston Globe. “We are adhering to these restrictions and all such cases are suspended at this time.”
The fast spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has led to numerous local and state governments shutting down large gatherings and businesses deemed non-essential. In keeping with CDC guidelines on social distancing and large crowds, MLB has delayed its season and worked out contingencies on player compensation should the suspension cancel the entire 2020 season.
However, Mets star Noah Syndergaard underwent the procedure in West Palm Beach, Fla., on March 26, six days after the state-wide executive order. Syndergaard’s Tommy John surgery was performed by Mets medical director, Dr. David Altchek.
After the pitcher and organization was criticized for obtaining an elective procedure, reigning home run champ Pete Alonso stuck up for his teammate on Twitter.
“Who is to judge someone’s medical needs in order to perform their job,” Alonso wrote. “Noah’s (Syndergaard) surgery, or any other athlete’s surgery during this time shouldn’t be scrutinized considering it is done by orthopedic surgeons, not those on the frontlines battling this pandemic.”
Red Sox star Chris Sale also underwent Tommy John surgery during the coronavirus crisis. Sale had the surgery performed on his left elbow on Monday in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
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