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Rays’ Brent Honeywell set back after another surgery

The one-time top pitching prospect could be sidelined through 2020 after a third surgery since he last saw game action.

ST. PETERSBURG — One-time top Rays pitching prospect Brent Honeywell had another significant setback and surgery that could sideline him until next spring.

Honeywell, 25, had been working his way back this spring from two major surgeries on his right elbow since he last pitched in a game in September 2017. On Thursday, the Rays announced that he had a decompression procedure on his ulnar nerve that included removing scar tissue from the area.

Team officials will wait at least a week before establishing any timeframe publicly for Honeywell’s recovery, saying he will begin strength and mobility exercises Monday in Port Charlotte.

At best, a target window for him to get back to pitching would be during the fall instructional league — if that is even held this year given other pandemic related changes — or next spring.

Related: Rays Honeywell pleased with "big leap" forward in recovery

After finishing an impressive 2017 season at Triple-A Durham, Honeywell has had a series of issues.

Participating in his first big-league spring training camp in 2018, he tore the ligament in his elbow in the first live batting practice session and underwent Tommy John surgery.

He had a couple small setbacks with nerve-related issues during his recovery but was working his way back in summer 2019 when he fractured a bone in his elbow throwing a bullpen session and had to undergo another surgery and rehab.

Related: Romano: On the cusp of stardom, Honeywell starts over again

Honeywell was excited this spring when he got to throw his first bullpen sessions, with an unofficial target to start pitching in minor-league games in May and be in consideration for a call-up from midseason on.

“Big day. I was excited. I got out of it what I thought I should have got out of it, if not more. It was good to be back up there for sure. I felt at home a little bit,” he said after a 15-pitch session on Feb. 28. “Today was a big, big leap mentally-wise. It was good. I was real happy with it.”

Honeywell was optioned to the minors later in the spring, and when camps were shut down to the pandemic, he, like other Rays, continued workouts on his own. He felt some discomfort recently and notified team officials. The surgery was performed Wednesday in Los Angeles by noted specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Honeywell’s two previous surgeries were done by Dr. James Andrews.