ANAHEIM, Calif. - Joe Ross had Tommy John surgery this morning, a procedure that the Nationals said went smoothly but nonetheless will sideline the right-hander until at least the middle of the 2018 season.
Ross had the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow replaced in Dallas by orthopedist Keith Meister, who reported it “went well,” according to manager Dusty Baker.
The typical timeline for pitchers returning from the surgery is 12 to 18 months, giving Ross a chance to contribute for the Nationals during the second half of next season.
“Most of the guys I know come back better and throwing harder than when they left,” Baker said. “Cause they get rid of everything while they’re in there. Anyone who has done any kind of pitching for any amount of time, they usually have something in there. I’m just hoping that Joe comes back stronger and better than ever.”
Today’s surgery brings an end to a season of peaks and valleys for Ross, who coming out of spring training was expected to be among the best No. 5 starters in baseball, but wound up twice getting optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and also displayed diminished velocity at times when pitching in the majors.
The 24-year-old had begun to get on track and posted a 2.36 ERA over a four-start stretch before struggling in a July 9 start against the Braves in which his velocity dipped into the mid-80s and he was pulled after three innings.
Initially diagnosed with a sore triceps muscle, Ross underwent an MRI that revealed a sprained elbow ligament. A second, enhanced MRI confirmed the full-thickness tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, making Tommy John surgery necessary.
After opening his career 12-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 35 games (32 starts) for the Nationals from 2015-16, Ross finished this season 5-3 with a 5.01 ERA in 13 starts.
Baker has spoken to the young right-hander throughout the process and believes he has the right attitude about what lies ahead.
“I think he’s handled it well,” the manager said. “You don’t know what’s going on internally, because doesn’t say a whole bunch. He’s not very expressive, unless he’s happy. That first operation is always the toughest, because you’re wondering how it’s going to turn out, or if it’s going to affect his career or anything. But I think he’s handled it well.”
Some more injury updates ...
* Trea Turner is now rehabbing in West Palm Beach, Fla., and is progressing on schedule. Though the Nationals have not revealed what that schedule is, they are believed to be targeting mid-to-late August for Turner’s return from a fractured left wrist.
* Michael A. Taylor is with the club in Anaheim and has been doing extensive work with the club’s training staff on his strained right oblique muscle. Baker said he thought Taylor might begin baseball activities today, though the outfielder (while appearing on the field in uniform this afternoon) did not participate in any drills.
* Koda Glover (rotator cuff) is rehabbing in West Palm Beach, along with Turner.
* Shawn Kelley (neck) is with the club on this road trip and has resumed throwing off flat ground.
In other news, Jacob Turner cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Syracuse. It’s the second time the right-hander has gone through that process this month after being designated for assignment.