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Rays say Blake Snell surgery went ‘as expected,’ September return still planned

2018 AL Cy Young award had “loose bodies” removed from his elbow in an arthroscopic procedure by Dr. Koco Eaton.
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) pitches at the top of the first inning against Texas Rangers on Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) pitches at the top of the first inning against Texas Rangers on Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)
Published Jul. 29, 2019

BOSTON — Arthroscopic surgery on Blake Snell’s left elbow went “as expected,” the Rays said Monday, and a September return to action is still planned.

Snell had the procedure by Dr. Koco Eaton on Monday morning in St. Pete to remove “loose bodies," which are typically small pieces of cartilage or bone chips, from his pitching elbow.

The Rays said last week when the surgery was announced, and again Monday, that they anticipate him being back on the mound “sometime in September.”

Related: RELATED: Latest blow for Rays - Snell headed for surgery

After several rough stretches in he acknowledges has been a “frustrating" season, Snell was recently starting to perform like the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, having gone 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his past four starts. Overall, he is 6-7, 4.28, and the Rays are 11-9 in his starts.

Snell, 26, said last week he knew something seemed unusual with his elbow over his previous three-four starts but that he felt it “move” to behind his elbow and knew then it was of more concern, and even more so after playing catch that day and waking uo sore the next, leading to the MRI exam which showed the need for surgery.

While going into the procedure optimistic and encouraged by talking with former teammate Nate Eovaldi, who had it in each of the last two seasons, Snell was also candid about not knowing exactly how he would recover. “I don’t really know how my body is going to react to anything like that,” he said.

The Rays are trying to make do with Snell out, continuing to use Charlie Morton and Yonny Chirinos as traditional starters while using Ryan Yarbrough and Jalen Beeks for bulk inning work typically behind openers. Rookie Brendan McKay is expected to come up and join the rotation, possibly as soon as Wednesday.


  1. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) pitches at the top of the first inning against Cleveland Indians on Sunday, Sept. 01, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.   [Times]
  2. Imagine what Tropicana Field would be like if fans showed up every day the way they did for Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Astros last October. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  3. Jose Altuve and other Astros stars hear it from fans in Lakeland, who aren't shy about reminding them of the sign-signing scandal. [FRANK FRANKLIN II  |  AP]
  4. Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (25), left, celebrates his solo home run with Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames (1) during the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 in Port Charlotte. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
  5. Fans line up to enter Tropicana Field during Game 3 of the 2019 American League Division Series (ALDS) Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in St. Petersburg. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times]
  6. Tampa Bay Rays pitchers Trevor Richards, left, and John Curtiss in practice during spring training in Port Charlotte. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  7. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Yonny Chirinos (72) delivers on the mound against the New York Yankees during first inning action at Tropicana Field, September 24, 2019 in St. Petersburg, FL. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  8. The Phillie Phanatic mascot walks on the third-base dugout while the Phillies play the Pirates in a spring training game at Spectrum Field in Clearwater on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. The Phanatic has a new look amid a legal fight with the long-running mascot's creators, but officials say don't expect the Phanatic's famous attitude to go anywhere. [YONG KIM  |  AP]
  9. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Anthony Banda during the start of spring training in Port Charlotte, Florida on Thursday, February 13, 2020.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  10. Yoshi Tsutsugo of the Tampa Bay Rays gets his first career hit of spring training with the Tampa Bay Rays during a game against the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, FL on February 23, 2020. [KEVIN SABITUS  |  Tampa Bay Rays]
  11. Tampa Bay Rays Japanese slugger Yoshi Tsutsugo prepares to head to the batting cage during batting practice on the Rays first full-squad workout at the Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd, on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 in Port Charlotte.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  12. Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark, shown here in a 2017 file photo, said getting the players to go along with the Rays' Tampa Bay-Montreal split season plan would “be difficult.’’ [VRAGOVIC, WILL  |  Tampa Bay Times]