Tommy Kahnle is back with the Yankees, looking to rediscover the level he was pithcing at when he first came to the Bronx in 2017. The righty with a devastating changeup was arguably the team’s top reliever down the stretch of that season and in the playoffs, but injuries had recently derailed his career.
In fact, as Kahnle told Ryan Ruocco and CC Sabathia on the latest R2C2 episode, those injuries, specifically the Tommy John surgery he underwent in August of 2020.
“Obviously there were times where I thought, ‘Man, I’m never gonna pitch again,’” Kahnle said. “I’ll say it. I thought I was never gonna pitch again. I was told possibly 50/50 at one point, but it was the passion to compete, I want to say. I feel like I missed it. It was gone for almost two years. I just was like biting to get back out and compete against somebody.”
Kahnle pitched just one inning of that 2020 season before needing Tommy John surgery, then missed all of 2021 and finally made his return in May of last season. but he went on to miss four months with a bone bruise in his right elbow before returning in September.
Now, back where he enjoyed his best seasons and with surgery further in the rearview, Kahnle is hoping to get back to where he was when he first put on the pinstripes, and, most importantly, enjoy returning to the mound when it once felt like it may never happen again.
“I feel like that’s a thing inside guys that separates, essentially,” Kahnle said. “You want to compete so bad. For those two years of just not being able to get out there and pitch, it was just like, ‘I need to get back.’ That kind of pushed me through, because I did go through a tough time with the surgery and the rehab, all that. So it felt good to finally get back out there.”
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