WAREHAM ---- A lot can happen in one year. And for Wareham pitcher Max Perlman (Harvard), a lot had to happen to get him back on Cape Cod.
After spending the 2008 summer with the Gatemen, Perlman tore his ulnar collateral ligament (the ligament that holds the forearm to the upper arm) in his first start of the Crimson’s 2009 season. The 6-6 right-hander had surgery in March, 2009 and was sidelined for the remainder of the year ---- a process that frustrated the Longwood, Fla. native.
“The rehab process is very slow and very tedious,” he said. “You get the cast off about a week after (the surgery), so you start moving it right away. For about two months you’re doing really light weights.”
Intense physical therapy followed the light weight-lifting. After four months, Perlman embarked on a throwing program. Although this month marks the 16-month mark in his recovery, the process did not seem as quick to him.
“There were some days when it just felt really good,” he said. “And (then there were days) when you’re only supposed to make 10 throws from 30 feet, you feel good, you want to keep throwing and you can’t. Then the next day it would hurt a lot and you couldn’t do your stuff. It’s very frustrating to go through.”
Perlman was not worried about the surgery. The only doubt running through his mind was when he would get back on the mound.
“The uncertainty of the surgery is that it can take anywhere from 10 to 18 months to come back,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to be ready to go in about 12 months.”
He was eased back into the Crimson lineup, throwing 15 innings this spring, including four shutout innings against Brown on April 19. Overall, the struck out 12 and walked four, posting a 9.60 ERA. But the veteran Gateman has been having success this summer.
“He’s been pitching really well,” Wareham field manager Cooper Farris said. “He struggled a little bit in his last start, but his other starts were really good.”
Perlman’s struggles are understandable.
“This is the first time I’ve really pitched competitively since the surgery,” he said.
His 2.61 ERA is fifth-lowest of all Gatemen pitchers, and third lowest of those who have pitched at least 20 innings. But it’s more than just getting his arm back into a routine.
“This is just a test of my abilities to adjust, so it’s not any different (from 2008),” he said.
The tests he faces on the mound are a mere blip on the radar to fans. The 2008 CCBL All-Star alternate is tied with Jack Armstrong (Wake Forest) for the fourth-most strikeouts on the Gatemen. In 20.2 innings, he has fanned 14 and walked five. He picked up his first win of the summer in a 15-4 victory over Bourne on July 4.
He’s not 100 percent yet, but it is no cause for concern for Farris.
“It’s just a long process,” Farris said. “He’s getting stronger each time he goes out and it’s just strengthening that area and strengthening his confidence. His velocity isn’t back to where it was, but it’s getting there. He’s getting stronger and he’s doing really well.”
The recovery process has been frustrating for Perlman, with variables constantly changing. One day a pitch is working, the next day it’s not. Still, he takes it one pitch at a time.
“Every day is different. It’s hard to explain,” he said. “It’s really just an inning-by-inning thing.”