Performance after rotator cuff tear and operative treatment: a case-control study of major league baseball pitchers

J Athl Train. May-Jun 2011;46(3):296-302. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-46.3.296.


Context: Little is known about pitching performance or lack of it among Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers who undergo operative treatment of rotator cuff tears.

Objective: To assess pitching performance outcomes in MLB players who needed operative treatment of rotator cuff tears and to compare performance in these athletes with that in a control group of MLB players.

Design: Case-control study.

Setting: Publicly available player profiles, press releases, and team injury reports.

Patients or other participants: Thirty-three MLB pitchers with documented surgery to treat rotator cuff tears and 117 control pitchers who did not have documented rotator cuff tears were identified.

Main outcome measure(s): Major League Baseball pitching attrition and performance variables.

Results: Players who underwent rotator cuff surgery were no more likely not to play than control players. Performance variables of players who underwent surgery improved after surgery but never returned to baseline preoperative status. Players who needed rotator cuff surgery typically were more experienced and had better earned run averages than control players.

Conclusions: Pitchers who had symptomatic rotator cuff tears that necessitated operative treatment tended to decline gradually in performance leading up to their operations and to improve gradually over the next 3 seasons. In contrast to what we expected, they did not have a greater attrition rate than their control counterparts; however, their performances did not return to preoperative levels over the course of the study.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletes*
  • Baseball / injuries*
  • Baseball / physiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery*
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Shoulder / surgery
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Shoulder Joint / injuries
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome