Detroit Tigers' pitching prospect Jay Voss climbed the rankings after a breakout season in 2011. A move to the rotation yielded 12 wins, a 3.56 ERA and a solid 1.16 WHIP. Heading into the 2012 season with high hopes, Voss' road to the show took a minor detour, as he was shutdown with a flexor-pronator injury that required Tommy John surgery.
Over the past few months, Jay Voss has agreed to participate in a three-part series with TigsTown, documenting his return to the mound. As the series unfolds we look forward to giving you the reader an inside look at Jay's journey.
Part 1: Voss Feels Pain, Goes Under the Knife
TigsTown: It has been about two months since we last checked in with you Jay. During that time, you have returned to the field, beginning baseball activities for the first time since your surgical procedure. Can you talk a bit about what you've been up to since we last spoke?
Jay Voss: Well, I have started to return to throwing activities. I just completed my 5th week of throwing. I have been working hard on my conditioning and strength, and I am making great gains in that department. I've gained 12 lbs [I’m] up to 220. I've never been in this good of condition. I was always working hard on that part of the equation, but me being able to get back out there and throw the ball around has been a welcome blessing. I can't say enough good things about how the organization has treated me throughout the process. I also can't thank the Strength and Conditioning staff and Medical staff enough for how much they've been there to push me forward.
TigsTown: What sort of throwing program are you currently on right now?
Jay Voss: Right now I am in the beginning phase of my throwing program. I have been throwing 3-to-4 days per week at 60 feet and building up my endurance to 60 throws. It is a crucial part of the rehab and not something you can really rush. The shoulder and elbow have to re-acclimate to throwing. I will begin increasing distances real soon to build arm strength and move toward my return to the mound. Building the arm strength back up is the key.
TigsTown: Have you experienced any setbacks?
Jay Voss: I have been very fortunate. I have not been experiencing many difficulties and my rehab coordinator, Corey Tremble, has me on a good progression. There is some soreness that comes along with the process, but that is normal. Nobody ever claims that the process is easy. It definitely is not. You have to be tough minded and fight through the little obstacles to get back where you want to be.
TigsTown: What will be the next step of your throwing program?
Jay Voss: I will be increasing distances very soon in my throwing program and should be ready to hit the bullpen mounds by the end of the winter.
TigsTown: Now that you have begun throwing, have you altered (or do you plan on altering) anything about your delivery, mechanics or repertoire?
Jay Voss: I don't think any big changes will take place. I will use this time to really get a good feel for my delivery and get my timing in order. The ball is coming out of my hand pretty good right now and I feel at the end of my recovery my stuff will be a step above where it was right before I got hurt.
TigsTown: What is the current timetable for your return to the mound against live hitters?
Jay Voss: Right now I am taking things one throwing session at a time. I believe the organization has a tentative time table set in place, but I have not been in their ear about it too much. The Tigers have a number of Tommy John survivors in place, and I trust they know how to get me back to 100%. The "standard" recovery time is usually in the area of a full year. I had the surgery May 22. So we will see. My focus is to work to get myself ready and when they put me on the hill I'll come out firing.
TigsTown: As you mentioned, the Tigers’ organization has several Tommy John survivors. Have you been able to reach out to anyone during your rehab process to help you navigate through things?
Jay Voss: Yes, that is one positive. There have been many TJ survivors reach out to me with advice and help. Duane Below, Tyler Stohr, Michael Morrison, Chad Smith, the list goes on. Me and [Steven] Moya are down here rehabbing together from the same surgery. We "compare notes" so to speak at times. Duane Below is down here as well working out and getting ready for 2013. I am sure he will council me a bit through my progression as well. People who have the procedure form kind of a support group it seems. It's really cool.
One last thing… GO TIGERS!
Next Up: The final installment will cover Voss' return to the mound facing live hitters.
James R. Chipman is the Lakeland Flying Tigers correspondent for TigsTown. Be sure to follow him on twitter @JAYRC_TigsTown. Also, be sure to follow Tigers prospect Jay Voss on twitter @Jay_Voss.