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Rays’ prospect Brent Honeywell undergoes another surgery

That’s four elbow surgeries since Honeywell’s last game in September 2017, but he is expected to be ready for the 2021 season.
Rays pitching prospect Brent Honeywell has had four surgeries on his elbow since he last pitched in a game in September 2017, at the Triple-A level.
Rays pitching prospect Brent Honeywell has had four surgeries on his elbow since he last pitched in a game in September 2017, at the Triple-A level. [ DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Dec. 17, 2020
Updated Dec. 18, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays pitching prospect Brent Honeywell underwent another surgery on his right elbow Wednesday, but the team said it was a minor procedure that should not impact his availability for the upcoming season.

Honeywell, 25, has had four surgeries on his elbow since he last pitched in a game in September 2017, at the Triple-A level.

Wednesday’s arthroscopic procedure was done “to relieve mild discomfort,” the Rays said, and they “do not expect it to impact his 2021 season.”

This procedure was not related to Honeywell’s previous surgeries, with Dr. Neal ElAttrache performing more of a cleanup of thickening of tissue in the capsule on the other side of the elbow and shaving a small bone spur that had led to some clicking.

Honeywell is expected to resume throwing in January and be ready to participate in spring training when it is scheduled to open in mid-February.

Honeywell was considered among the top pitching prospects in the game as he climbed through the Rays system after being a 2014 second-round pick, including earning MVP honors in the 2017 All-Star Futures Game. He compiled a 31-19, 2.80 record in 79 games over four minor-league seasons, striking out 458 over 416 innings.

That earned him an invitation to major-league spring training in 2018, but he tore the ligament in his right elbow in his first live batting practice session and underwent Tommy John surgery.

Honeywell had some nerve-related issues that led to small setbacks that delayed his recovery. He was working his way back throwing in June 2019 when he fractured a bone in his elbow — the medial epicondyle, which is connected to the ulnar collateral ligament that is repaired during Tommy John surgery. That required another major surgery and extended rehab.

Honeywell seemed on track as he progressed to throwing his first bullpen sessions during the initial 2020 spring training, with a plan to start pitching in minor-league games in May and be ready for a mid-season call-up. But the pandemic interrupted that schedule.

While working out on his own in May, he felt some discomfort which led to him undergoing a decompression procedure on his ulnar nerve that included removing scar tissue from the area.

Honeywell came back from that surgery and threw well enough during the summer to be added to the Rays’ 40-man player pool for the postseason, throwing regularly while traveling with the team throughout the playoffs and World Series, but he was not activated.

Manager Kevin Cash said Wednesday the Rays consider Honeywell and lefties Josh Fleming and Shane McClanahan the top young pitchers to be part of the big-league staff.