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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Former Cardinals prospect McCormick attempts controversial comeback

St. Louis Cardinals 2005 supplemental first round draft pick Mark McCormick tried to achieve his professional dream of reaching the major leagues but had to abandon his quest due to injuries.

After five seasons of trying, the former Baylor star, taken 46th overall in 2005, was released by the Cardinals in December 2009. The right-hander had spent most of the interim period either injured or rehabbing. The Texan had missed all of the 2009 season after his fifth surgery, intended to relieve arthritis in his pitching shoulder.

McCormick is now attempting a comeback by undergoing a controversial and unproven stem cell procedure in the Grand Cayman Islands. The treatment, illegal in the USA, involves the replanting of a person’s own stem cells to enhance the body’s healing.

This procedure received considerable attention this last season when Bartolo Colon revived his MLB career to the point he could throw 95 MPH. At age 38, Colon pitched 164 innings for the Yankees with a 4.00 ERA after having sat out all of the 2010 season.

McCormick was featured in a recent feature of ESPN’s Outside the Lines. It follows. Then, weigh in on the poll below.

What is your view of stem cell therapy?

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12 Responses to “Former Cardinals prospect McCormick attempts controversial comeback”

  1. CariocaCardinal says:

    I voted in the “I don’t know” category but I’m actually surprised this type of issue hasn’t become a bigger controversy. Not necessarily stem cells but other things such as artificial tendons and ligaments which could end up allowing players to throw harder or run faster than natural ones. In any case, i think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in this type of controversy. I can actually see a future where there are 2 types of leagues in professional sports much like has come about in weight lifting – leagues where anything goes (bionics, steroids, etc.) and those that are basically “all natural” where these types of things are prohibited.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    An athlete looking to restore a deadend ballplaying career will explore new bio-logical healing techniques. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
    If the experimental therapy is found to be effective, it will be authorized in the US. The company is based in Colorado. It can be very expensive to submit information to the USFDA to request approval of new therapies. Its reasonable for innovative techniques to be explored outside the US, until enough info is developed to make the case to the USFDA. Or, if this is a small market, it may make sense to stay outside the US, if the costs of review are high relative to the small number of customers for this therapy.
    McCormick used to be represented by Scott Boras, when he signed with the Cards in 2005. Maybe Boras Corporation brought this promising new therapy to McCormick’s attention.
    If this therapy can rebuild ligaments and restore McCormick’s terrific velocity, he could land a big signing bonus, since the Cards made him a free agent.

  3. DizzyDean17 says:

    I see no problem whatsoever here. What’s the difference between this procedure and taking a tendon from a player’s foot and putting it in his elbow so he can pitch?

  4. blingboy says:

    Better, faster, stronger. We have the technology.

    I think I have heard that modern TJ surgery makes an elbow structurally superior to a normal elbow. Maybe that’s what DD17 was talking about. I’m no expert.

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/will_carroll/03/09/tommy-john-surgery/index.html

      This is everything you ever wanted to know about the procedure BB……….. included are the locations of the replacement parts…(not the foot of course)…….. its really an interesting article……… you can watch the surgery on a cadaver arm if you want………

      • DizzyDean17 says:

        Tommy John surgery, known in medical practice as ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, is a surgical procedure in which a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body (often from the forearm, hamstring, hip, knee, or foot of the patient). The procedure is common among collegiate and professional athletes in several sports, most notably baseball.

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          There was a time before the Aids epidemic that they would use cadaver ligaments Dizzy…. The foot has few parts to spare……….. I understood them to take it from the back of the leg…….but I see there is a preference for the forearm……………. always something to learn……..

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Its hard to see McCormick’s decision to try a new therapy as controversial. If this treatment helped Bartolo Colon, as Brian implies above, it can help others too.

    This does not sound like the laetril (sp) controversy years ago, when cancer patients would go out of country to take a substance that likely did not help. If this treatment actually helped Colon, why shouldn’t McCormick give it a whirl too? And Josh Wilson. And others with strong arms felled by shoulder woes.

    This could be the start of a revolutionary advance in sports medicine.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    Poor McCormick suffered through 5 surgeries on his right shoulder, according to Brian’s article above. Surgeons cutting and doing gosh knows what inside his shoulder in hopes they might get lucky and help it work better. They failed. The old style medical operations on shoulders did not have a high success rate. Sticking with the failed old surgical approaches of the past would deserve to be truly controversial.
    Whereas stem cell pioneer Bartolo Colon has tried to find a new, better way forward for pitchers with bum shoulders. Good for Bartolo, the new Tommy John!

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