It’s not every man who will start throwing a baseball two to three weeks before his doctors clear him to walk, but then no one has ever accused David Aardsma of being normal.
Still under orders to put no weight on his surgically repaired left hip, the Seattle Mariners closer is none-the-less taking on two rehab sessions a day, and will start throwing in another three weeks.
From his chair.
“I’ll focus on the arm motion, just throw without using my legs,” Aardsma said. “Then by the time I can throw standing up, my arm will have a little more strength, and will have stayed loose.”
Jus how soon he’ll return to the mound remains to be seen.
“You have to listen to the doctors, and what I’ve been told is it will be couple of weeks into season before he’s back,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “That’s the average timeline. Every body responds a little differently. He could come quicker, there could be setbacks. We’ll adjust.”
The Mariners have Brandon League, and behind him two young hard-throwing righties in Dan Cortes and Josh Lueke. If Aardsma is out only a few weeks, there should be no problem.
“I’m optimistic I can be ready for opening day,” he said. “I just want to be healthy, have a good healthy season. Whatever the timeline is, only my body can tell. I’ll do the work and we’ll see.”
The bottom line: If Aardsma and the Mariners could get a guarantee he’d be ready two weeks into the season, and suffer no setback along the way, they’d take it.
Aardsma has no such guarantees, so he does precisely what his doctors tell him - and they had him up and on a bicylcle an hour after he woke up following surgery.
“They want you moving, because motion and movement helps,” he said. “They don’t want you immobile. When I woke from anesthesia, they put me on a bike. I told them, ‘You know I just had hip surgery, right?’ It was amazing.”
It wasn’t any bike, and Aardsma was told to peddle hard with his good leg, jus let his repaired left leg stay on its peddle without putting weight on it.
Aardsma hasn’t put much weight on that left leg since.
He’s on crutches, undergoing two rehab sessions a day and - for six hours each night - having his left leg lifted, degree by degree, from a 30-degree angle o 70 degrees. The irony of the situation is that had Aardsma had surgery earlier in the off-season, he’d have been ready to pitch in spring training. The pain in his hip, however, almost precisely mirrored the pain he’d have had with a far more common injury - a strained oblique muscle.
Aardsma missed the final weeks of 2010, rested an appropriate time for an oblique injury, then started his usual throwing program - and knew something was wrong.”
“When I started to throw, that pain was still there, and that didn’t add up,” Aardsma said. “I got checked out, had an MRI, and they found a tear in the labrum of my hip. I might have hurt it more if I’d try to pitch through it.
“When they went in, they repaired the tear and shaved a bump in the bone, which might have caused the tear.”