The internal fortitude that makes Josh Conway a tough competitor is being tested again, much to his chagrin.
On May 15, 2012, the former Smithsburg star had Tommy John surgery for a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow while pitching at Coastal Carolina University.
Conway, who turned 22 last month, was still drafted as a pitcher by the Chicago Cubs in the Major League Baseball Draft and went through an extensive rehab process at the Cubs’ spring training complex in Mesa, Ariz.
Rising upward on the Cubs’ minor league pitching chart out of extended spring training this year, Conway might have been looking to have a ticket punched to Class A in the near future.
Until May 4 of the current season.
“I was making my last start in extended spring, it was the second pitch of the second inning and I felt a pop in my elbow,” Conway said. “The first thing I thought was, ‘Not again.’”
But the diagnosis turned out better than expected.
“It’s not as bad as it seems and I am 100 percent better about it knowing what the injury is,” Conway said. “I thought maybe some scar tissue had ripped, but it was a ligament anchor for the UCL. Basically, I have a fractured elbow right now.”
Conway made the visit to noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. He had surgery on May 16, has begun recovery at home and will head back to Mesa this week to begin another period of rehab, expected to last three months before he is able to throw the baseball.
“The doctor said the UCL and the nerves are in good condition, they are strong,” Conway said. “The doctor said it was about 1 out of 400 surgeries that a second injury happens.”
After the first surgery, Conway went through 14 weeks of therapy and he will now have another three months of work ahead of him to get back on the mound.
“The first thing is the rehab and getting the arm straightened out in order to start throwing,” Cownay said.
Conway was a fourth-round pick of the Cubs and he signed, electing to leave Costal Carolina. He previously had been drafted in 2009 out of high school by the Atlanta Braves, but opted to go to Coastal.
He was an outfielder and pitcher for Coastal before he became solely a pitcher, topping out in velocity at 94 mph.
Before his recent setback, it appeared the Cubs were about to send Conway to either Kane County (Geneva, Ill.), of the Midwest League, or Boise (Idaho) of the Northwest League. Both are Class A clubs.