Joe Ross to undergo Tommy John surgery again ahead of free agency

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Ross to undergo Tommy John again ahead of free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Nationals starter Joe Ross will undergo a second Tommy John surgery on his right UCL after experiencing tightness in his elbow during a rehab start May 24, manager Davey Martinez announced in his pregame press conference Tuesday.

“Joe opted to have surgery,” Martinez said, as aired on MASN. “No date yet but he wants to get it repaired and fixed. After the surgery, it’s just a whole lot of healing and strengthening, getting him ready to get on the mound again as soon as possible.”

Ross, 29, hasn’t thrown a pitch for Washington this season. He posted a 4.17 ERA over 20 appearances (19 starts) last year until a partially torn UCL ended his campaign in August. The right-hander decided to rehab the injury rather than go back under the knife, but a bone spur in his elbow ultimately forced him to have surgery this spring anyway. He was making his first rehab start with Double-A Harrisburg when the pain returned.

It's especially poor timing for Ross, who now will become a free agent this offseason while in the middle of his rehab. Martinez told reporters he hopes to have the right-hander back next year.

“I’ve talked to him already about what his plans are after the surgery,” Martinez said. “I told him, I said, ‘I’d love to have you here, close.’ He’s got a guy in Dallas that he works with religiously but I said, ‘I would love for you to come down here and be with the guys and get some work in in here so we can keep eyes on you.’ But we feel like he’s a National. Right now, he still is a National so we’re gonna keep it that way.”

The first time Ross had Tommy John surgery was 2017. He made his final start July 9 of that season and didn’t appear in another MLB game until Sept. 13 the following year. Ross then alternated between the bullpen and rotation in 2019 but left his mark on the Nationals’ championship season by making a spot start for Max Scherzer in Game 5 of the World Series.

Ross is reportedly making $2.4 million this season in what was his final year of arbitration. If he does return to the Nationals in 2023, he may have to settle for a minor-league contract.