Asked what the Yankees have learned about the injury in recent years, the pitching coach Larry Rothschild said: “Not much. I’m not sure the industry’s learned much about it.”
The first one in that span to have surgery was Domingo German — the pitcher who has taken Montgomery’s spot in the rotation. He had his operation on March 31, 2015 — a few months after being acquired by the Yankees in a trade with the Miami Marlins.
German missed that season and returned to throw 49⅔ innings at Class A in 2016. He surged through the Yankees system last year, pitching in Class AA and Class AAA before making his debut last June. He is the only one of the Yankees who have had surgery in the last three seasons whose career trajectory does not appear to have been impeded.
If his recovery looked straightforward on paper, it was not.
“When something like that happens to you, the first thing that comes to your mind is that your career is going to be over,” German said through an interpreter. “Once you get the operation over and you start throwing, you have to believe in yourself. You have to have a tough mind, really positive thinking after you start throwing because it’s what’s going to get you through the whole process. It’s never easy.”
The Yankees had been hoping that Montgomery would take a significant leap after a surprisingly strong rookie season last year. He was 2-0 with a 3.62 earned run average in six starts to begin the season. German has pitched solidly as his replacement, though his 0-4 record and 5.44 earned run average are hardly flattering.
But if General Manager Brian Cashman was already on the hunt for starting pitching, those efforts are likely to be redoubled now that Montgomery’s return is out of the question.
In the meantime, the Yankees will keep their eyes on in-house options. Two of their more regarded prospects are at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre — the left-hander Justus Sheffield and the right-hander Chance Adams — who have been solid and spotty, respectively. The most effective starter there has been Josh Rogers, a left-hander whose 3.48 earned run average in 11 starts included a rocky outing on Sunday.
“Rogers has opened a lot of eyes,” Boone said.
Probably the least surprising item about Rogers occurred when he was in high school in New Albany, Ind. — he had Tommy John surgery.