Rays’ Shane McClanahan will have Tommy John surgery, miss all of 2024

The left-hander is set to undergo the ligament reconstruction for the second time, which can make the recovery longer and more complicated.
This will be the second Tommy John surgery for Shane McClanahan, who underwent the procedure in 2015 as a freshman at USF.
This will be the second Tommy John surgery for Shane McClanahan, who underwent the procedure in 2015 as a freshman at USF. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Aug. 16|Updated Aug. 16

SAN FRANCISCO — Rays two-time All-Star starter Shane McClanahan will have Tommy John elbow surgery that is expected to sideline him until 2025.

McClanahan, 26, has been idled since leaving his Aug. 2 start, feeling tightness in his left forearm.

He visited with and/or consulted with three doctors over the last two weeks and had options for less severe procedures, such as loose body removal or flexor repair. He met Tuesday with another specialist, Dr. Keith Meister, and opted for the complete ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, scheduled for Monday in Texas.

“It sucks,” manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s unfortunate for us. He’s a big part of our team. He’s done so many good things here in the first half. And then coming out of the break, and even going into the break, the injuries started to creep up.”

This will be the second Tommy John surgery for McClanahan, who underwent the procedure in 2015 as a freshman at USF.

That can create a greater challenge in returning to top form, as recovery and rehab can be lengthier and more difficult the second time given the condition of the elbow and surrounding tissue. McClanahan is likely to have an internal brace installed, which adds a strengthening element but also an additional healing issue. The standard recovery time is 13 to 15 months.

“I wish we would have known a little bit more sooner, but it is what it is and now we’re going to do work really, really hard to get him back as quickly as possible,” Cash said. “But in fairness to Shane and how these go, we’re very prepared that he will not be a part of next year.”

McClanahan was off to a dazzling start this season, 11-1, 2.12 through 15 games, then left a June 22 start due to what the team said was mid-back tightness. He served a 16-day stint on the injured list and skipped pitching in the All-Star Game (though he did attend in Seattle), but never really regained his top form.

He left an Aug. 2 start in New York after four innings, having felt tightness on the outside of his left forearm while warming up for the fourth, and hasn’t pitched since. He was 0-1, 7.36 over his last six outings.

Given that McClanahan hit 99 mph four times in that Aug. 2 game, and that he said the tightness was on the opposite side of the typical area of concern, Cash said the need for Tommy John surgery was unexpected.

“I was surprised,” Cash said. “I think you always have to have that in the back of your mind when there’s talk of elbow stuff. Just the way he was throwing the ball, it was surprising. But we need to get him right.”

McClanahan next year will be arbitration eligible for the first of four times, and by returning in 2025 will have three more seasons before becoming a free agent in 2028.

He will be the third member of the planned five-man rotation to undergo major elbow surgery this season.

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Jeffrey Springs had Tommy John surgery in April and Drew Rasmussen, who had two previous Tommy John procedures, in July had the internal brace installed. Both are projected to return during the 2024 season. Tyler Glasnow missed the first two months with an oblique strain and a recent start due to back spasms. Zach Elfin missed time with back tightness and a left knee issue.

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