Well, White Sox fans, it happened. Michael Kopech underwent Tommy John surgery and the team is already planning for his return in 2020.
The White Sox rookie right-handed pitcher’s surgery was on Tuesday, September 18, in Los Angeles. His surgeon was Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The White Sox announced the surgery on the team website on Wednesday.
According to the Sox, the surgery was successful and Kopech should be back to pitch in Spring Training in 2020.
All the waiting
Even though Kopech was not drafted by the White Sox, it feels as if fans have been waiting for several years for him to permanently join the team. He was actually a Red Sox first-round draft pick in 2014 when he was only 18 years old. Then, he was traded to the Southside when Chris Sale was sent to Boston at the end of 2016. He has spent two seasons pitching in Double-A and Triple-A, teasing the fans with the rumors of his stuff.
Then the rain delays
Then, the fans finally got to see it. Kopech had only four outings, three at Guaranteed Rate and one at Comerica Park in Detroit. In all three home games, Kopech’s start was interrupted or delayed by rain. So fans have not been able to see him go deep into games (unless fans drove to Detroit on August 26).
It is always sad when pitchers have to have Tommy John surgery. I keep hearing the experts on MLB Network and MLB Radio talk about how this is the perfect time for Kopech to have this routine surgery since he is young and will be quick to recover. But, for White Sox fans, who have suffered through this season, ending it with the knowledge that this exciting young pitcher will not be on the mound at all in 2019 is painful.
The long outing in Detroit
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I got to see Kopech pitch in Detroit and I was impressed by his poise, power, and emotions. He fought through his six innings. I was surprised that Rick Renteria didn’t pull him after getting in some trouble in the fourth when he Kopech hit two batters and loaded the bases and in the sixth when the Tigers hit consecutive doubles off of him. But, Kopech got the win and only gave up one run on the day. Yes, there were a few moments when Kopech seemed a slightly rattled, but he quickly regained his composure and became a formidable force with the mission of getting outs. Check out how he did it in the sixth in this video from MLB.com:
Worth a second wait
The Tommy John announcement was a huge disappointment. But, Renteria’s message to fans about Kopech was hopeful when speaking about his recovery program:
"“He is a guy who is very disciplined, he’s a hard worker but I think we’re probably gonna stay on top of him to make sure he doesn’t do more than what he’s supposed to. Sometimes I think more is better, and that’s not necessarily the case. It’s guarded, it’s measured, it’s following a protocol of routine and work and, obviously, healing.”"
Kopech Time in Chicago will return – hopefully, as a new-and-improved power pitcher that will take over the position of co-ace (with Carlos Rodon). In the meanwhile, we at Southside Showdown wish Kopech a successful recovery.