Chris Capuano Impresses, Continues Push For Return To MLB

Tommy TorkelsonCorrespondent IMay 15, 2010

GOODYEAR, AZ - MARCH 11:  Chris Capuano #39 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches during a Spring Training game against the Cincinnati Reds on March 11, 2010 at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Tom·my John surgery

Pronunciation: /ˈtäm-ē-ˈjän-/
Function: n
See also: Ulner Collateral Ligament Reconstruction

For most pitchers, Tommy John surgery marks the end of their career.

The procedure, which is the removal of a usually ruptured tendon in the player's elbow, replaced with a tendon with a similar one from the wrist, is often followed by a lengthy recovery.

Many players have had Tommy John surgery, but few have made a successful return. Of course, the most notable return from Tommy John surgery, is Tommy John himself, who, after an injury to his left elbow (his pitching arm), underwent a new surgery.

After successful surgery and physical rehabilitation, John returned to baseball in 1976, eventually finishing his 26 year career with a record of 288-231, 164 wins after his surgery, to go with three All Star appearances.

Chris Capuano, best known for his 18 win season in 2005 and All Star appearance in 2006, has been injured or rehabbing his injured elbow since his last start in 2007, including two Tommy John surgeries.

A quick look at Capuano's numbers:

W/L: 42-48 ERA: 4.39 WHIP: 1.36 K/9: 7.4

Now, those might not look like too promising of numbers for a guy who was healthy for those seasons, but keep in mind this: Post-Tommy John Surgery, Tommy John went on to win 164 games and had better years than before his injury.

Could the same happen for Capuano?

To be honest, optimism should be kept at bay here.

Capuano's career has posted two seasons of ERA's equal to or higher than five, and his best year, 2005, seems to be an aberration. He received great run support that season, and allowed 31 home runs to go with 94 walks, career highs in both.

That's rarely a successful recipe for an 18 win season.

Capuano had a strong spring, and is continuing it into his minor league starts.

Capuano's minor league numbers?

An outstanding 3-0 record, .79 ERA, and most crucially, two walked batters against 22 strikeouts.

Can Capuano make a return to the MLB this season?

I would put the odds against it, but, as Capuano has shown all along his lengthy return to the game he loves, he doesn't mind proving people wrong.

He could make a return as soon as June or July, but would he be a starting pitcher again? Would he be used for long relief from the 'pen in an attempt to ready his arm for a full season in the rotation next year? There are many questions left to be answered about Capuano, but "Cappy" can put a few of these questions to rest on his own if he keeps his performance at this level.

Like Craig Counsell, Capuano is a crowd favorite. Always has, always will be, and he's got nothing but support for him fighting to return. Hopefully Milwaukee and Capuano can find success together, this season, and beyond.