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JD Drew explains his surgery

11.23.09 at 6:43 am ET
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ALCS Rays Red Sox BaseballJ.D. Drew’s initial reaction when asked about having surgery on his left shoulder last Thursday?

“What surgery?”

But then, after a brief explanation that word had come out regarding the procedure, Drew relented. The Red Sox’ outfielder hadn’t wanted any red flags to be raised regarding the surgery, but now that the news had been made public he had no problem explaining the details of the operation, along with what led to the pain which wouldn’t go away.

“I got that (cortisone) injection right before the playoffs, which helped a little bit but didn’t help a whole lot,” Drew said from his Georgia home. “Then I went into the offseason and the last couple of weeks it’s just been wearing me out. Nagging, achy, and every time I reach across t grab something it was really weak. So I flew into Boston Wednesday to get an MRI to see what was going on.”

What was going on was some bone-on-bone irritation, causing bone spurs that ended up pinching his AC joint (acromioclavicular joint). Since no amount of rest or rehabilitation would heal the ailment, Drew was forced to get the bone trimmed off.

While the immediate results of the surgery has offered a great deal of discomfort (“Coming out of it pain wise was a lot worse. My arm is so sore,” he said), the prognosis is that Drew will be able to begin some light rehab work next week and lose perhaps just one week of his offseason workouts when it’s all said and done. (“The turnaround time on it isn’t hardly anything. Once the swelling and the soreness goes away you’re right back to being pain free. But you can imagine that if you cut something off the bone it will take a little time to heal back up,” he added).

As Drew pointed out, he had already discovered that getting shots was not the answer to this problem. And when executing simple things like reaching across the kitchen table for a salt shaker had increasingly become a chore, he knew a trip to Boston was a necessity.

“I got to the point a couple of times where it was really painful during the season but got the shot and it took the edge off,” Drew explained. “When you’re doing baseball every day I think your body is loosened up and more accepting to those motions you do. But when you come home for the offseason and everything starts healing up that’s when a lot of time you start noticing scar tissue build-up in that area and that’s when I was like, ‘Golly man, this is not not normal’. I didn’t know if it was rotator cuff affecting my AC joint, or a labrum issue. I knew it hurt like heck on top of my AC joint but I wasn’t sure if it was coming from somewhere else. That’s when we went in to get a picture of it and get some scans and all it was was a pretty simple bone spur right on top of my AC joint. I think it’s been building up being a left-handed hitter who doesn’t release my top hand and kind of rolls around, those two bones rub together ever since I’ve been playing the game of baseball. It finally got to a point where a shot wasn’t gong to fix it.”

As for the overall structure of his shoulder, Drew said that the MRI reaffirmed that there were no other problems other than the bone spurs. And, according to the outfielder (who just turned 34 last Friday), that injury was a byproduct of nothing more than continuous wear and tear that stemmed from the manner in which he has swung a bat all these years.

“The shoulder looks great,” he said. “Actually the radiologist was like ‘Man, the shoulder looks great, but did he fall on his shoulder because his AC joint is lit up like a Christmas tree’. That’s just how much inflammation and chronic irritation that was going on.

“I didn’t want to go in with this thing nagging me here and there next year, having to take a day here and there, and getting cortisone shots. Dr. [Thomas] Gill said he was glad we did it because he said I probably wouldn’t have made it through the year fighting that thing. Now we’re good to go.”

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