MLB.com's Jason Beck MLB.com's Jason Beck

Clarity on Seay’s Injury

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Basically, this is worst-case scenario for the Tigers and for left hander Bobby Seay. Seay spoke with MLB.com’s Jason Beck in Lakeland this morning and finally gave word on the official diagnosis concerning his balky left shoulder: torn rotator cuff.

Beck says the injury is a grade 2 tear that nearly qualified as a grade 3, the worst possible tear. Seay was given his options by Dr. James Andrews on Thursday. Surgery, he was told, should be a last resort, as pitchers trying to come back from such a procedure rarely return effectively. In short, this is an injury that frequently ends careers.

Instead, the 31 year old Seay will attempt to strengthen the muscles around the injury through rehab, a process that will take at least six weeks. If all goes well, Seay has a chance to return to form and pitch through the injury, which will not heal itself. It’s a case of the lesser of two evils. Rehabbing the area around the rotator cuff could be Seay’s best chance to resume his career as a major league pitcher.

While there are not guarantees the rehab program will work, it is Seay’s only chance to pitch this season. If he cannot strengthen the area enough to make the pain tolerable, Seay will face a surgery that will take more than a year to return from, if he can come back at all.

Last season, Seay appeared in a career high 67 games for the Tigers, and it’s quite possible he was pitching with the tear even then. When camp opened this spring, Seay said throwing felt “foreign” to him. When his shoulder began to stiffen, Seay was shut-down and diagnosed with bursitis of the upper arm and tendinitis in his shoulder. After rest and medication to calm the area, Seay felt good in his first bullpen session. When he tried again a couple of days later, he could barely lift his arm.

Obviously, the Tigers must move ahead with the idea that Seay will not be available anytime soon, if at all this year. Phil Coke, acquired in the Curtis Granderson trade, will take over as the number one lefty in Detroit’s bullpen, a role he held last year with the Yankees. With final roster cuts coming next week, lefties Brad Thomas and Fu-Te Ni continue to vie for the other available spot.

The only benefit for the Tigers in this news is that, if they so choose, they could move Seay to the 60-day DL, which would allow the team to replace him on the 40-man roster.

This is important if they decide that a non-roster player, such as Jeff Larish or Robbie Weinhardt, should break camp with the team. The 40-man is currently full, so a player would have to be removed in order to add someone else. Seay’s injury could give the Tigers a chance to do so without losing a player altogether.