Thompson to have second Tommy John surgery on Friday

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – From the moment he felt something in his elbow while throwing to live hitters back home in Texas earlier this month, Mason Thompson feared the worst. Today, the Nationals reliever had those fears confirmed: He needs Tommy John surgery.

Thompson will undergo a full elbow ligament replacement surgery Friday, manager Davey Martinez revealed today, and will miss the entire 2024 season.

The 26-year-old reliever has been through this before, having had Tommy John surgery as a junior at Round Rock High School. Given his history, he had a sinking feeling about the severity of this injury when his elbow hurt after throwing a pitch during his pre-spring training workouts.

The Nationals decided to shut down Thompson for two weeks to let swelling decrease, then had him re-examined this week, hoping he might be able to avoid the surgery and get by with a less-invasive rehab program. But an MRI revealed a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, so surgery was scheduled.

Thompson now faces 12 to 18 months of recovery, not to mention the stigma that comes with a second Tommy John surgery.

“As I talked to Mason, I said: ‘Hey, you’re young and I know you can come back from this. It’s going to take the process, and you’ve got to stay positive and work your way back,’” Martinez said. “I know he can do it. Hopefully, everything goes well for him. I’ll talk to him after surgery. But it’s going to be a long process for him again.”

Thompson wasn’t guaranteed a spot in the Nationals’ Opening Day bullpen, but he was at times as dominant as any reliever in the majors last season. He opened the year with 17 strikeouts, one walk, an 0.96 ERA and only 11 baserunners allowed in 18 1/3 innings. After a rough May, he bounced back with a strong June that included an 0.82 ERA in 12 appearances. But he struggled through most of the second half and finished the year with a 5.50 ERA and 1.556 WHIP in 51 games.

Knowing of the possibility of a serious injury for Thompson, the Nats went out and signed several veteran relievers to minor league contracts with invitations to big league camp the last few weeks. They already added right-handers Derek Law, Robert Gsellman, Luis Perdomo and Jacob Barnes, plus lefty Richard Bleier, and on Tuesday signed righty Matt Barnes to a contract as well.

“He was in the mix to grab that sixth or seventh spot in the bullpen,” Martinez said of Thompson. “So there’s going to be some availability. I like all the guys that we have, and it’s going to be tough. That’s going to be the toughest thing, is picking eight. I always say by the end of spring training, things work themselves out. I hope nobody gets hurt. I just hope everybody does good and I’ve got a tough decision to make.”

Barnes, a longtime member of the Red Sox bullpen who won a World Series ring as a setup man in 2018 and ascended into an All-Star closer in 2021, reported to the team today. The 33-year-old, who struggled last season with the Marlins while dealing with a hip injury that required surgery over the winter, said he’s fully healthy now and thinks he’ll be ready to start pitching in games next week.

Rutledge labors, Finnegan cruises, Robles progress...
Starting lineups: Nats vs. Red Sox in West Palm Be...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to