Richards’ Risk Proves To Have Been Worth It

Updated: April 5, 2017

In the earlier remnants of last year, a pair of Angels’ pitchers were in desperate need of help. One of them, Andrew Heaney, will unfortunately miss the entire season unless anything dramatic comes about. The other one, Garrett Richards, is a bit luckier than the southpaw.

The two originally tried out the same stem-cell therapy treatment, one of the newer techniques in contemporary sports medicine. Heaney was the first to give it a whirl, although the lefty eventually warned Richards that he would have to pay for the $3,000 treatment himself. It was not covered by the team strangely enough. Pedro Moura of The Los Angeles Times dips into more on this aspect. One quote he includes reference how shocked Richards was upon discovering that the cost was not handled by the Halos.

“‘You’d think so, right?’ Richards said. ‘But in the big scheme of things, I looked at it like, ‘OK, this is totally worth it possibly working.’ To me, it was invaluable. If it could work, I probably would’ve paid twice, maybe three times as much, as I already did.’”

It is relatively peculiar by virtue of the fact that NBA, NFL, and NHL teams cover such luxuries. The same is not so for baseball, however. Despite the out of pocket cost, Richards is now healthy. He will pitch in his first real game tonight versus Oakland since last year’s injury.

Team physician Steve Yoon was persuaded that the stem cells played quite a role in the right-hander’s recovery. He discerned it was a gamble from the start, yet Yoon now grasps the strides made in the industry of medicine.

“‘At the time we were performing the procedure, we knew what the stakes were, and the possibilities with regards to actually healing the ligament and having him return back to baseball,’ Yoon said. ‘There were prominent surgeons out there that told him you need to reconstruct your ligament. To have him return the way he did shows some of the potential in sports medicine.’”

Richards understands the continued attention given that he is one of few who have been linked with the procedure itself in any sport. If his return is a strong one, the publicity will only amplify. Richards suggested he does not really want the attention, though. He does not wish to be viewed as an icon or anything like that. He is here to play the game he loves: baseball. That is it. Nevertheless, he does ascertain the overall randomness associated with the way the tides have gone for him.

“‘Let’s say it didn’t work, and I had to get surgery in September,’ Richards said. ‘I probably would’ve been sitting here saying, ‘Man, I wish I would’ve just gotten the surgery in May.’’”

Richards knows that he is not literally the only one who has been a part of this experiment. The circumstances revolving around his story add to it, though. It does not mean he has always enjoyed the bright lights shining upon him since this all went down. He senses the hidden dangers relative to the exposure.

“‘I feel like in the sports world, not just baseball, the medical side of it is very private, because the less other people know, the better, when it comes to contract time, when it comes to everything,’ Richards said. ‘Leaked information can totally derail somebody’s career. To be honest with you, if I didn’t have to come out and say anything about it, I probably wouldn’t have. I probably would’ve just quietly disappeared for the whole year.’”

That is certainly a downside to sports these days in general. A lot of information gets publicized on a dime whether it is wished for or not. It is more or less the age the world itself is in. Either way, it is good to simply see Garrett back in action. The risk he took was worth it big time because he would still be recovering right now in all likelihood.

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