Chen received a platelet-rich plasma injection, which uses a person’s own blood to help promote healing of the ligament. He said Tommy John surgery — which sidelines pitchers for roughly a year — was never a serious consideration since the tear was not significant. Instead, he recovered in time to make three starts at season’s end.
“PRP was the quickest way for me to recover and come back,” said Chen, who has had his left UCL repaired once already, via Tommy John surgery in 2006 when he was pitching in Japan.
The rest-and-rehab path — aided by PRP treatment — that Chen chose is not uncommon for pitchers with partial UCL tears. The New York Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka has avoided surgery since rehabbing his partial tear in 2014, and the St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright pitched with his for more than a half-decade before having surgery in 2011.