ST. LOUIS -- Former All-Star left-hander Chris Capuano took another step in his long recovery from his second Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on Wednesday when he debuted at Rookie-level Helena with two scoreless innings. Pitching at home against Helena, Capuano surrendered a leadoff double but retired the final six hitters he faced and notched one strikeout. It was his first appearance away from the Brewers' training facility in Phoenix, where Capuano pitched three times for the team's low-Rookie affiliate. Capuano has not pitched for the Brewers since Sept. 27, 2007. He was fighting for his spot in the starting rotation the following spring when he re-injured his left elbow, the subject of reconstructive surgery in 2002, and needed a second surgical fix. The success rate for pitchers returning from a second Tommy John surgery is not good.
"I just had my 31st birthday, and that's not over the hill but it's getting a little old in baseball," Capuano told Helena Brewers broadcaster Steve Wendt this week. "There's always a little fear, because there's that chance that your body won't bounce back and you won't be able to recover. Whenever those doubts creep in, you have to push them out of your head." Capuano's fastball velocity sat in the 89-90-mph range during his four-year Brewers tenure, but he told Wendt this week that it's been topping out at 85-86 mph this summer. "You're not going to blow it by anybody at that velocity," Capuano said in the radio interview. "But it really doesn't matter how hard you throw; especially once you get to the big leagues, you have to locate. I'm not going to pitch any different than I normally do. A few extra mph would be nice, but I know that I have to kind of be patient and let that come back when it does." Capuano is scheduled to make a handful of starts for Helena before the season ends Sept. 11. He signed a Minor League deal last winter to remain with the Brewers and will be a free agent again after this season.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.