Gavin Floyd has a new step to celebrate in his rehabilitation from reconstructive elbow surgery.
A little more than 19 weeks removed from Tommy John surgery, the White Sox pitcher began to play catch — without a windup — from 90 feet on Wednesday. Soon, Floyd, a free agent after the 2013 season, will move to 120 feet, and then he’ll take another step in the three-phase rehabilitation program first devised by Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974.
Considering Floyd had to start small with gentle range-of-motion exercises for his wrist, hand and shoulder and only after six weeks was he allowed to start elbow-strengthening exercises, any new step offers joy. Floyd is expected to miss anywhere from 10-14 months after the May 7 surgery.
“I kind of accepted it’s going to be a long process,” Floyd said. “I’m very thankful for each new step I do take because it’s exciting. You do a lot of the same stuff, and all of a sudden you have a step, you get more movement in your brace. I was excited when I got more movement, and all of a sudden you get full range and you’re working on that and you get to throw and there’s little things you can kind of celebrate about. It keeps you going.”
One of many hardships faced by the White Sox this season, Floyd — who was expected to be a mainstay in the rotation and one of the club’s more enticing trade chips were they to go that route — only made five starts before his 2013 campaign was over.
Floyd, 30, has been in Chicago off and on for his rehab process but has spent most of the season at home in Florida. While it took some adjusting, Floyd has embraced the process and the unforeseen opportunity it presented.
“At first it was, ‘What am I going to do? What’s going to happen?’ You start worrying about things you’re not in control of,” Floyd said. “I just trusted the Lord that whether it’s in baseball or out of baseball it’s going to work out. I’ve been blessed to be able to enjoy the moment, to enjoy my family, despite the circumstances. I’m trying to work hard, trying to get back, and God willing that happens that’s great.”
Floyd’s unsure when he’ll be back on the mound. The recovery process ranges per the individual as Floyd notes he’s heard some players have returned in 10 months and others take more than a year.
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What team Floyd plays for when he returns is also in question. With the White Sox looking at perhaps two-to-three younger players filling out their rotation in 2014, it is possible Floyd could return on a minor-league deal to give the club depth.
But for now Floyd’s sole focus is returning to the mound.
“Everybody heals differently, and you just have to take it one step at a time,” Floyd said. “I’m trying to be smart and aggressive at the same time. ... I’m looking forward to see what happens.”