Contrary to earlier reports, Drew Smyly will not have season-ending surgery to repair his torn labrum, and will instead give it eight weeks of rest and rehab, according to Matt Stein of Sports Talk Florida.
From the article:
Though torn labrum’s generally lead to surgery, Smyly said that was the worst-case scenario here. The doctors he met with said the tear isn’t significant, and they were nothing but positive after examining him and seeing the results of his MRI and right now surgery isn’t even an option.
That's great news for Rays fans. Players often take at least a year and a half (sometimes longer) to recover from the surgery, and the success rate on repairing torn labrums isn't great. Were he to opt for surgery, there's no guarantee he would ever be able to pitch again, so it makes a ton of sense to try the rest-and-rehab route if it's an option.
As an example of someone for whom forgoing the surgery worked, Smyly gave his former University of Arkansas teammate Mike Bolisnger, who is currently in his rookie season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This will be Bolsinger's fifth season as a professional without major issues from the Labrum he tore in college.
Of course it might not work, but Smyly and the Rays are playing the percentages. There's a chance Jake McGee gives up a home run every time he throws his fastball up in the zone. If the doctors are comfortable with the decision, so am I.
The Earlier Reports
The original report about Smyly's season-ending surgery came from beat writer Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The article began:
LHP Drew Smyly's recurring shoulder problems include a tear in his labrum that seems likely to require season-ending surgery, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.
Later on, it noted that he had not in fact gone for his MRI, and Kevin Cash said that the Rays were still in the process of evaluating what the issue was.
There's nothing explicitly factually incorrect about that statement (although the "the Tampa Bay Times has learned" is an awkward construct for something as unimportant as a baseball injury). Smyly's labrum was torn, torn labrums are often operated on, that operation would end his season if he were to have it. But Smyly wasn't pleased.
Smyly said he didn't appreciate false stories being written about his season being done before he even met with doctors. #Rays— Matt Stein (@MattSteinSTF) May 21, 2015
And from Stein's article:
"It sucks to have to look on T.V. and see that everyone’s saying you’re out for the season with season-ending surgery [when I hadn’t] even spoken to a doctor yet," he said. "I think that’s a little annoying, but it is what it is and it’s good to finally have a little clarity on the situation."
There's a lesson in this for all of us. While investigative journalism and anonymous sources are crucial to our society in general, baseball news is incredibly unimportant. Yes, there's a whole industry built up around sports rumors. Yes, being first and having a catchy headline matters. But in terms of service to society, the time frame on this news is utterly meaningless.
During the trade deadline, I don't believe any news until Topkin says it's really happening. I trust his integrity and his attention to detail, and that trust carries over to the rest of the Tampa Bay Times, which is a fine paper that we're lucky to have. So let's cool it with the scoops, all of us.