TORONTO — The Rays are waiting for additional opinions on what exactly is wrong in Jeffrey Springs’ left arm, but enough is known that the starting pitcher is expected to be sidelined for at least two months.
That timetable, reported by the Tampa Bay Times, also would indicate that the injury is more than just an inflamed and/or irritated ulnar nerve, as Springs and the team were hoping.
The precise issue, and its severity, will determine the course of treatment and ultimate timeline for Springs’ return. A torn ulnar collateral ligament, for example, could require Tommy John surgery and sideline the left-hander into the second half of the 2024 season.
“I’m confident he’s not going to be on the mound anytime soon for us,” manager Kevin Cash said after Friday’s game.
Springs left Thursday’s game against the Red Sox two pitches into the fourth inning when he felt what he described as “kind of a funny bone, kind of a shock, zinger kind of thing down the forearm.”
He underwent an MRI on Friday morning and was examined by team orthopedist Dr. Koco Eaton, reporting similar symptoms.
“He feels about the same as he did (Thursday),” Cash said. “We’re still gathering opinions of doctors. ... But there’s no update until we are told exactly what needs to take place.”
The Rays did not immediately place Springs on the injured list, which could be related to the additional opinions or an indication they are still deciding how best to replace him.
Prospect Taj Bradley, who was sent back to Triple-A Durham after an impressive debut on Wednesday, could be recalled, as there is an exception to the 15-day minimum stay for optioned pitchers if they are replacing an injured player.
But Bradley likely wouldn’t be used before Tuesday in Cincinnati (given the 22-year-old has been on a six-day schedule), so the Rays may decide they need a fresh arm before then.
Thursday’s initial diagnosis on Springs was “ulnar neuritis,” a condition commonly described as inflammation of the ulnar nerve that results in numbness or weakness in the hand.
Springs said he was “hoping for the best” on Friday, but obviously something was amiss as the Rays now are seeking additional opinions.
Also of note is that Springs underwent, and obviously passed, a physical exam that likely included an elbow MRI in January before signing a four-year, $31 million extension. That followed a 2023 breakout season when he transitioned from the bullpen to the rotation and developed into one of the Rays’ top starters while working a career-high 135-1/3 innings.
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