Atlanta Braves relief pitcher and former Rhea County standout Cory Gearrin announced Tuesday that he will have season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow to repair a ligament damaged during spring training.
"It's tough and not what you want," Gearrin said to media outside the Braves' clubhouse before Tuesday's home opener against the New York Mets. "Coming into the preseason and into spring training I was really excited about the work I had put into the preseason and was looking forward to helping the team win this year.
"It's part of the game, though, and now it's just onto the next step for me. Now it's just making the most of the situation and put the work in and be ready to come back next year."
Gearrin's prognosis had been feared since he felt discomfort while pitching in a game on March 25. After the initial diagnosis by the famed Dr. James Andrews, Gearrin sought other opinions before deciding to go ahead with surgery.
"I didn't want to make any judgments on it until you get confirmation," he said. "But after speaking to the best guys in the country about it, it is what it is. But now you turn it around and make the best out of it and turn this into a positive thing."
Gearrin said that he's had support and advice from his teammates and coaches, especially from those who have undergone Tommy John surgery.
"Everybody's been great as far as reaching out to me and helping me make the best decision I can," he said. "We have guys who have been through it throughout baseball. It's just something that guys deal with from time to time.
"Guys have given me a ton of positive comments about their experiences and what to do and not to do."
Gearrin also said he's received encouragement from friends and family in the Chattanooga area that has helped him through this process.
"My family, friends and other people back home have reached out to offer me support and wish me the best," he said. "They've been great, and it's a big help having a support system back home when you're going through this so you know you're not going through it alone.
Gearrin said he expects to have the surgery done in the next week so he can begin rehabilitation work soon. He plans to spend as much time as possible with the team following the surgery.
While rehabilitation and sitting out the season will be tough, Gearrin said he thinks having this injury relatively early in his career and at the beginning of a season will help with his recovery and hasten his return to the big leagues.
"The preference if for this to never happen," said Gearrin, who will turn 28 on Monday. "But if it had to happen, the timing isn't the worst.
"Presumably this will take up one season, whereas if it had happened in the middle of the year it could have taken up two and maybe three seasons. And still being young and I'm an established major league pitcher."
Gearrin was able to find a silver lining in his situation, which he said will give him a chance to visit home more than he normally can during the summer.
"I have no clue what my schedule will be through this, but presumably I'll have some time to get back, especially when the team is on the road," he said. "I know my mom and dad will be happy about that, especially getting to see me during the summer."
Contact Jim Tanner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6478.