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Rays’ Yonny Chirinos headed for Tommy John surgery, likely out until 2022

He is one of seven key Tampa Bay pitchers on the injured list and the fourth to be sidelined for the season.
Yonny Chirinos’ elbow injury is season ending and he is likely headed for Tommy John surgery.
Yonny Chirinos’ elbow injury is season ending and he is likely headed for Tommy John surgery. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Aug. 21, 2020
Updated Aug. 21, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays sustained another major loss to their pitching staff, as Yonny Chirinos is headed for Tommy John surgery that likely will sideline him until 2022.

Chirinos was placed on the injured list Wednesday after feeling something amiss in his elbow during a throwing session in New York. Imaging and further evaluation Friday showed the need for his ulnar collateral ligament to be repaired.

“Very unfortunate for us, for Yonny,” manager Kevin Cash said. “You just really feel for the guy. But you know what? He’s got the best trainers as far as we’re concerned for rehab, to get him back, get him right. He’s going to miss some time. It’s pretty standard what the Tommy John procedure entails (missing 12-14 months). He’s going to live here locally, and I think that will help. We’ll get him as ready as quick as possible.”

Chirinos is one of seven key Rays pitchers on the injured list, and the fourth to be sidelined for the rest of this season, joining Colin Poche, Andrew Kittredge and Brendan McKay. Those expected back include Charlie Morton (though not this weekend as the Rays hoped), Oliver Drake and Jose Alvarado.

“It’s pretty disappointing, because (Chirinos) is a big part of what we’re doing,” Cash said. “The guys have filled in and done pretty remarkable to date. But when your guys start going down, and we’ve had plenty of them here as of late, it becomes overwhelming, sometimes consuming, and you just kind of scratch your head, ‘How’re you going to get through it?‘

“But so far, the guys have given us all the confidence in the world we can piece enough together and find ways to put guys in position to help the team win games.”

Chirinos’ surgery will be performed Monday in St. Petersburg by team orthopaedic physician Dr. Koco Eaton.

Chirinos returned to active duty Sunday after missing 12 games with triceps inflammation. He worked 2⅔ innings against the Blue Jays, allowing two runs on five hits with no walks and three strikeouts. He threw 50 pitches, showing no signs of any issue in what was his third start of the season, giving him an 0-0, 2.38 record.

Cash said after that start the Rays were “encouraged” by Chirinos’ stuff and confident he could build off it, but that changed in the Wednesday throwing session when Chirinos “complained of just a lack of power in his pitches.”

Chirinos missed the first two weeks of Spring 2.0 after testing positive for COVID-19, though he said after joining the workouts July 19 that he had relatively mild symptoms. He was able to do some workouts while quarantined and was deemed ready to open the season, making two starts before the first injury became an issue.