Alexandria ace Shay Endres focuses on path to recovery after finding out he needs Tommy John Surgery to repair right pitching elbow
Injury happened in the final start on the mound of Endres' Cardinals' career on June 8 in the Section 8-3A playoffs against Sartell.
Alexandria’s Shay Endres was one of the top pitchers in the Central Lakes Conference and Section 8-3A fields this spring. Now the recently-graduated senior will use the work ethic and love for baseball that helped him become that as a driving force to try to get back after an injury.
Endres hurt his elbow in the final start of his Cardinals’ career during the section playoffs on June 8 against eventual section champion Sartell-St. Stephen. An initial MRI revealed a slight-to-mid-level tear of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, but Endres needed a dynamic ultrasound on his elbow to see the complete extent of the damage.
He and his family were in the Twin Cities area for that appointment on July 13 where doctors recommended that he undergo Tommy John Surgery to repair the UCL in his right elbow. That surgery will take place on July 28 before Endres goes to his first year of college at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall where he signed to play baseball for the Mustangs .
“I would say I’m excited to see how I can prevail from the injury and see how I can get back up on my feet and get back out there,” Endres said after knowing a path forward in his recovery now. “It’s a little bit of a bummer because the recovery time is a very long amount. It’s about 12 months. I knew it was going to be a long time either way, even if we didn’t do surgery. The physical therapy and trying to build it back would take a decent amount of time as well. It’s kind of a tough situation, but I’m also excited to see what I can do from here and go into physical therapy and come back hopefully just as good as I left.”
Endres led Alexandria on the mound as a senior with 45 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out 64 batters and walked just 16 on his way to posting a 1.69 ERA and a 6-3 record.
Endres was on the mound against Sartell in St. Cloud on June 8 when he threw a curveball in a 1-2 count with two outs in the fourth inning.
“That’s when I felt a little bit of a pop and a pull in my arm,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to describe a tear, but it felt like a pull of that muscle. It obviously hurt in the moment, and I ended up throwing four more pitches after that to get out of the inning. I walked that kid, and then the next batter came up and I threw a fastball down the middle where he ended up flying out to left.”
Endres did not show much emotion on the mound after he felt that discomfort. He came off the field, and Alexandria pitching coach Chris Koep asked him about going one more inning.
“I tried to battle through it and get out of the (fourth) inning,” Endres said. “No one really knew that it had happened. I told him right away that my muscle and my elbow doesn’t feel good.”
Endres thought he could still hit offensively. He did not start in the field in a game later that day against Rocori before getting a pinch-hitting appearance late in the game.
Swelling occurred in the days after the injury, but Endres said there was not much physical pain in the elbow once that swelling went down.
He has been able to do most of his summer activities as planned without it affecting him, except for the one thing he would like to be doing most. Endres has had to watch from the dugout as his Alexandria teammates have played through their Legion baseball schedule.
“Doctors recommended not swinging, playing, to make sure it doesn’t get worse,” he said. “I feel like I would be able to maybe help and (play designated hitter) for the team, but they want it to heal up and be the best it can be yet.”
The recovery time after Tommy John Surgery ranges depending on the individual. Doctors told Endres it can take anywhere from nine months as a best-case-scenario to 14 months for some.
“Thinking of that, I’m hoping for the best, but I have it through my mind that it might be a super slow recovery,” he said. “It’s not going to be fun, but we’re looking for the best outcome after. We’re going to battle through this time of me not being able to play and do much and just doing what’s best for my body.”
Endres is trying to stay positive knowing there is still a lot of baseball ahead of him with four years of college eligibility. He will likely use a medical redshirt as a freshman as he works through physical therapy and tries to be ready to go for his sophomore year academically.
Endres has been in contact with SMSU head coach Paul Blanchard, who has been encouraging through this whole process.
“We talked on the phone, and he wants me to stay with the team, and he told me there’s a lot to learn outside of playing,” Endres said. “Watching the game and seeing how things unfold on the field, picking up on the small things and then encouraging my teammates and being with them. He was very supportive of staying with the team. That helps me to just move on and encourage my team as they’re playing.”
Endres knows he has a long road ahead of him to get back on the mound. But it’s a path he’s willing to take in order to play at a high level again.
“I fell in love with the game ever since I was super young,” Endres said. “This injury and the recovery is a speed bump in the route of what college and the future has to hold for me. I love the game so much, and I don’t think this is going to affect the long run for me. We’re going to get over it and hopefully have the best outcome after surgery. From there, we’ll see what happens.”