"It's unbelievable, perfect," said De La Rosa, whose meteoric rise to the Major Leagues last year was derailed by one bad pitch that tore his ulnar collateral ligament. "I'm going to be a lot better. No doubt I'll be 100 percent."
Dr. Frank Jobe, inventor of the operation, insists that the transplanted tendon (De La Rosa's came from his right forearm) forms a stronger joint than the original ligament.
De La Rosa, six months into recovery, said he hasn't had any setbacks and is throwing 90 feet on flat ground with a target of April to be throwing off a mound. He said he feels healthy enough to air it out, but the training staff has him reined in to throw easy.
"I have to wait," he said. "I want to be healthy. Sometimes I want to throw hard."
Except for one week home in the Dominican Republic, he spent the offseason rehabbing in Arizona. He said he's a little surprised at how well the rehab has gone, considering the stories he's heard from other patients, like current teammate Javy Guerra and former teammate Luis Vasquez.
"Sometimes it takes two years and you're not back," he said.
De La Rosa said he was injured on one pitch in an Aug. 1 game against Arizona. Earlier in the game, he was clocked five times at 99 mph. The club is undecided whether De La Rosa will return sooner as a reliever or later as a starter.