Frank Herrmann watched every inning of every game the Indians played last year.

However, he wasn’t watching from his preferred place in the bullpen, but sitting on a couch in a rental in the Arizona desert.

For the majority of the 2013 season, Herrmann had company as he and buddy Josh Tomlin watched their teammates together each night the way some families gather regularly for movie night.

Although Tomlin was seven months ahead of his fellow right-hander’s recovery from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, it helped that Herrmann didn’t have to go it alone. He had someone to talk to. And he had someone to measure the particulars of his recovery against as well.

“Patience isn’t my strong suit,” said Herrmann, who underwent the surgery last March 31. “It would have been a lot different without him here to talk to and hang with. My wife lived and worked in Atlanta at the time. But Josh and his two dogs were out here and it kind of reminded me of my dog back home. So it was just us two and the dogs — a nice little surrogate family.”

When Herrmann first visited the surgeon, he was given a packet of information that included a detailed recovery plan that explained pretty much how he’d feel on a near-weekly basis as he began the long road to recovery.

“Weeks two through four will feel like this, weeks four through five like that,” he remembers reading. “And there’s different benchmarks like when you start playing catch, when you throw off the mound, etc.”

But what helped the most was being able to ask Tomlin, “Hey, I’m a little sore today, is this normal?”
“You see guys with T.J. all the time now,” said Herrmann, an undrafted free agent who signed with the Indians in 2005 and pitched for them parts of the past three seasons. “Guys just throw harder now and everyone seems to have nasty breaking balls. There’s a lot of load on the joints. There’s no surprise that it happens. Everyone’s trying to keep up with the Joneses and sometimes you blow out.