Brewers left-hander Chris Capuano, attempting the difficult comeback from his second Tommy John reconstructive surgery, has been shut down with inflammation in his elbow, manager Ken Macha said Tuesday morning.
Capuano last pitched on March 11 against the Reds, when he surrendered two runs on three hits including a Joey Votto home run. He has tried playing catch since then, but Brewers head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger decided the best course of action was to cease throwing until the inflammation subsides.
“It’s a setback for him,” Macha said. “He’s not going to quit. He’s going to keep going after it.”
Macha spoke with Capuano on Tuesday morning. He said Capuano had also spoken with some other players who have overcome injury and been offered encouragement.
“The outings he has had, he has thrown the ball well enough to get Major League hitters out,” Macha said. “I don’t want to get Biblical, but I kind of mentioned to him that in order to get to the promised land you have to get through the desert. He’s been in the desert a long time.
“He can still get there. He certainly has the desire to do that. That’s one person I have a lot of admiration for, what he’s done.”
Capuano, 31, had his first elbow reconstruction in 2002 when he was a Diamondbacks prospect and made his Major League debut a year to the day after surgery. He was traded to Milwaukee in the December 2003 Richie Sexson trade and won 18 games for the Brewers in 2005 and made the National League All-Star team in 2006. On March 17, 2008, pitching a Spring Training game against the Mariners, Capuano re-injured his elbow and succumbed two months later to another surgery.
The list of pitchers who have made it back to the Majors after multiple Tommy John surgeries is short, but it can be done. Reliever Chad Fox, a former Brewer, had three such procedures before calling it a career.