By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Coming back from ‘Tommy John’ surgery once is a tall order for any pitcher. Doing it twice is incredibly impressive, and that is the road that Radnor High product Jordan Ellis is travelling.
A right-handed reliever, Ellis had his first surgery in high school. He would recover and go on to have a very good career for Villanova, eventually getting drafted by the Phillies in 2008. He got as high as Double-A Reading in 2011 when he hurt his elbow again. Ellis eventually had the second surgery but, after being released by the Phillies, he needed a place to pitch. That led him to Camden to join the bullpen of the independent Riversharks of the Atlantic League.
“I didn’t think I was done yet,” Ellis told KYW Newsradio after a game last week. “So I wanted to continue to play and here I am.”
Ellis, 27, has been solid for the Riversharks. So far in 2013 he has made 20 appearances, going 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA. In 20 2/3 innings, he has struck out 25 batters and walked just six.
“I think my stuff’s been the same (after the surgery),” Ellis says. “The biggest thing that I’ve found is just the consistency in strikes. Throwing strikes and limiting the amount of walks. That’s what I really think has helped me. In terms of velocity, it’s the same. It’s not any less. My velocity’s not down, thank God. I was told that after a second Tommy John, there’s a 50% chance of rebounding, coming back 100%. I’m happy that the 50% was on my side.”
Going through a second ‘Tommy John’ surgery is daunting not just physically, but also mentally. It is a long, arduous process to get back to the mound and Ellis says he had some doubts before he went under the knife.
“There’s always those thoughts, ‘What if I don’t bounce back? What if I don’t come back 100%?'” Ellis says. “But in the end, once I was healthy, I was going to give it my all and do everything I can to get back to where I am and fortunately everything’s worked out.”
Ellis and the Riversharks continue a four-game series in Somerset on Tuesday night.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.