Up to the plate walked some stud on the other team who was good enough to attract 10-20 scouts.
"I'm going to try to one-up this guy," Binford recalled thinking. "I had terrible mechanics. I was just trying to throw as hard as I could, and I didn't know any better. I was having a great game up until that one pitch."
That pitch altered his life.
"It popped. I could hear it," he said. "I had no idea what the sound was at the time. I thought I just pulled a muscle. I took three days off and tried to throw, and I couldn't make it to 90 feet. The ball just didn't go anywhere. So I had an MRI, and it was completely torn."
Just 16 at the time, Binford joined the list of
Elbow ligament-replacement surgery isn't just for big leaguers these days. More than two dozen major leaguers have had the elbow ligament replacement operation in the last year, a group that includes
At least three players at the All-Star Futures game already had the surgery: Binford, a Double-A right-hander in the Kanas City Royals organization, was joined by
"Sad to say," Giolito explained, "it's kind of become a kind of routine deal for pitchers — hopefully not all of them."
Several top orthopedists met last week in
Binford, throwing consistently in the low 90s during a 1-2-3 inning in the Futures game, still remembers the warm reception he received at Andrews' office in
"It was awesome, absolutely awesome," he said, "going down there and seeing
Giolito, who turns 20 on Monday, was 9-1 with a 1.00 ERA two years ago as a senior at Harvard Westlake in
Giolito attributes his injury to "a brutal combination of me throwing too hard with my body not developed enough" and sees a need for change.
Many in baseball were shocked when
"I hope that it starts to open the eyes of amateur coaches, even travel ball coaches for 11-, 12-year-old kids," Giolito said. "You see things like 10-year-old travel ball kids playing hundreds, thousands of innings a year, just nonstop baseball. I don't think that's good."
With snapped ligaments repeatedly in the news, those who haven't needed the surgery hope they'll remain healthy.
"I don't know what you're going to do, unless you're just not going to throw, which isn't ever going to happen," said
AP Sports Writer
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