A Fresh Start

Brady Aiken, Guest Contributor - The Players' Tribune

Yesterday, I had Tommy John surgery to fix my left arm. I’m obviously extremely disappointed. I wanted to let my pitching speak for itself, but now there are going to be new distractions. For that reason, I wanted to be the one to tell people what’s happened and make this a fresh start.

Since last summer, a lot of people have wondered how I could have turned down a multi-million-dollar signing bonus after being picked first in the Draft. Now, I know they’ll probably be wondering about it again. I can honestly say I don’t regret not signing. It was a very difficult decision, but it also was an informed decision based on circumstances only a few people know the truth about. My family and I planned for all the possible outcomes. We weighed the pros and cons, talked with friends and mentors and doctors whose opinions we value and discussed it over a number of family dinners. This wasn’t a decision we made lightly.


The money wasn’t the only factor to consider. I wanted to play somewhere I felt comfortable, with a support system I felt would lay the groundwork for a successful and long career. Making sure I had that in place was worth the frustration of not being able to get on with my career sooner.

My family was smart, and we accounted for all of the possible risks. Having gone through this process, I really encourage other players to take the time to be fully educated about what they are getting into and to plan for the unexpected. Having a solid plan helped me through the ups and downs. Even now, I know I made the decision that made the most sense for my future.

The truth is, over the last nine months, I didn’t dwell too much on what happened over the summer. I was looking toward the future. I just put my total focus into preparing for the 2015 Draft. My workouts were the best they had ever been. I was throwing better and harder than I had ever before. And then, in my first game for IMG Academy last week, I threw a pitch and something felt a little wrong.

MLB: JUN 05 First-Year Player Draft

When I visited the doctor’s office and got the news I had torn my UCL, I can’t even begin to express how I felt. I was — and still am — overwhelmed with a lot of different feelings, but mostly it’s disappointment. I won’t be able to pitch this season, and this is going to keep me from doing what I love most of all — competing. It’s going to be frustrating, and not just from a baseball perspective. When it’s 90 degrees at home in Cardiff and the waves are perfect and I can’t surf, that’ll be tough, too. I know the road ahead will be full of patience and hard work, and I’m ready for that challenge.

When I decided not to sign, I knew injuries were always a possibility. Two other pitchers drafted after me in the first round last year were picked by their teams despite just having undergone Tommy John surgery. This is just a temporary setback.

Brady Aiken

I want to thank the people at IMG Academy and all of the friends who have supported me throughout the last nine months — I will rely on that support to motivate me in my recovery. Most importantly, I want to thank my parents and my sister who have helped me to come as far as I have. There’s more to my story, and I’m looking forward to writing another chapter.

When I woke up after surgery yesterday, my surgeon at HSS, Dr. David Altchek, told me that the operation was a success. I already have a plan in place to rehab my arm, and I plan to come back better than ever. I also know God has a plan for me. Injuries are part of the job, but so is coming back. I can’t wait to get back on the mound. I can’t wait to compete again.


Pitching is a chess game — except you’re throwing a chess piece at 96 mph. It's a mental challenge as well as a physical one. Lately, in my career, I’m more and more interested in reminding myself to be a student of the game.

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