GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It is not hard to see Dr. Frank Jobe's legacy around the game. Go to any Major League camp, simply scan the elbows of the pitchers on hand, and the scar from Tommy John surgery is easily spotted on numerous players.
At Cleveland's complex, at least 13 players in big league camp have undergone the operation that Jobe first performed on Tommy John back in 1974. Jobe passed away on Thursday at the age of 88, but he will hardly be forgotten in baseball, especially by the pitchers whose careers have been saved by the famous surgery.
"I definitely know his work," Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin said with a smile. "I was sad to see that [Jobe died]. That's a huge legacy to leave behind. What he did, he basically revolutionized the game for guys that have injuries. It's not career ending anymore."
Tomlin is one of 12 Indians pitchers in camp this spring (out of 33) who have had Tommy John surgery. Others on that list include closer John Axford, starters Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, and relievers Josh Outman, Vinnie Pestano and Frank Herrmann. Infielder Mike Aviles also underwent the ligament-replacement procedure.
Axford, who had his operation in November 2004, said it is hard to imagine being in the position of Tommy John at the time of the first surgery. These days, the surgery and subsequent rehab is practically down to a science, making elbow injuries less career-threatening.
"I would have to see the breakdown of what was actually presented [by Jobe]," Axford said "It's been 10 years ago for mine, and I'm even trying to think of the presentation of when they were telling me what they were going to do. Trying to understand it for the first time, I'm sure it's got to be crazy to think about."
Tomlin agreed with Axford's comments.
"I can't imagine being in that position," said Tomlin, who had his surgery in August 2012. "But I also can imagine being Tommy John, where it's hard not to listen to something like that, because that's the only option you have. For both of those guys to actually come out and do that, and revolutionize what Tommy John surgery is today, it's pretty special."