With infection gone, Litsch can start rehab

With infection gone, Litsch can start rehab

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jesse Litsch finally received some good news about his injured right shoulder on Tuesday morning.

The results from a series of blood tests came back and confirmed that the infection in his shoulder is now completely gone. That was the initial belief after Litsch underwent an emergency procedure this spring to clear up the infection, but when the pain never went away after the surgery, there was cause for added concern.

Litsch can now move forward with his rehab in clear conscience, but still faces a long road back to full recovery.

"I still have a lot of pain, but we're still working with team doctors and trying to get it all figured out," Litsch said. "It's something that is very rare, hasn't been caused much, hasn't been done much, we're trying to figure things out, work through it and it's an everyday grind."

The infection was caused following a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in February by surgeon Dr. James Andrews to treat inflammation in Litsch's right shoulder. The procedure involves injecting portions of a patient's blood into the affected area with the hope that it accelerates the healing process.

The blood that is used during the treatment is removed from the body and then rotated at high speed to separate red blood cells from the platelets. The platelets release proteins and other particles that are used in the healing process, and a small amount is then inserted back into the body through the infected area.

Litsch had the relatively common procedure previously done on his right elbow after Tommy John surgery, but this time something went wrong.

"It's something that is routine, it has been done a lot," Litsch said. "It's newer within the past 10 years but it's had a lot of success and they did it via ultrasound, which is something that was new and something along the way got messed up, and it caused an infection in my arm. It has been a grind ever since."

Litsch will attempt to rehab the shoulder for at least the next month, but if the pain does not subside, he likely will have to undergo yet another surgery.

The 27-year-old Litsch began last season in the starting rotation, but eventually transitioned to the bullpen where he went 2-0 with a 4.08 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. He is 27-27 with a 4.44 ERA in his career.