White Sox top pitching prospect recovering from Tommy John surgery with an assist from another pitcher that has dealt with a similar surgery.
When Michael Kopech made his major league debut last season for the White Sox, there was a buzz in the air at Guaranteed Rate Field. Although he pitched just two innings before the game was delayed due to rain, Sox fans were electric with every pitch thrown by Kopech.
The 22-year-old would only make four starts in his rookie season before tearing the UCL in his right elbow. Kopech would later require Tommy John surgery which was successful. He will miss the entire 2019 season but this offseason, Kopech received some assistance on his recovery from fellow teammate Lucas Giolito.
According to James Fegan of The Atheltic (subscription required), Giolito didn’t hesitate to wait for Kopech to ask for help in recovering from Tommy John surgery this offseason. Giolito underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012 as a senior in high school at Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles.
"“I hit him up. I realized he’d be doing Tommy John rehab at the same place that I did it back in 2012-2013. So I hit him up and say, ‘What are you doing? Where you living?’ And he said, ‘I’m still looking,’ so I said, ‘Why don’t we get a place together?’” Lucas Giolito"
Kopech and Giolito were roommates through this past December according to Fegan. Giolito was a big part of Kopech’s support system while living together. Giolito mentioned how depressing recovering from an injury that requires Tommy John surgery can be for a young baseball player. He also mentioned that Kopech is in a good place mentally in regards to his recovery.
For Kopech, having time off in 2019 to recover from injury will give him time to get better on the mound. Kopech mentioned how he started in the Majors with a changeup that barely existed and that will be an important part of his rehab this year.
"“I have a lot of time off but I have a lot of time to get better too. I went to the big leagues last year with practically a non-existent changeup. That’s going to be one of the focal points of my rehab. Between that and a few other things, I’m going to really try to take advantage of this time off. It’s going to be god awful for me not being able to play, but at the same time I’m going to try to take advantage and I think it’s going to be really helpful.” Michael Kopech"
Kopech began his major league career with a lot of promise. 2019 will be an important year for him as he rehabs from his UCL injury and works on becoming a better pitcher. Despite not pitching this season, Kopech can still be an important pitcher for the Sox when he returns for the 2020 season.