Miami Marlins’ Eury Perez to have Tommy John surgery, will miss 2024 season

Miami Marlins right-handed pitcher Eury Perez will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the 2024 season, Marlins president of baseball operations Peter Bendix announced Thursday.

The surgery is scheduled to take place Monday.

“I know Eury is really frustrated,” Bendix said ahead of the Marlins’ series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. “He’s really disappointed, but he also understands that this is a minor setback in what’s going to be a really long career.”

The decision came after Perez made a second visit to Dr. Keith Meister on Thursday, about two weeks following his initial visit after experiencing elbow discomfort during spring training.

Perez’s initial diagnosis was mild elbow inflammation. Surgery was not recommended at that point. He began playing catch shortly after that diagnosis. He felt more elbow discomfort a few pitches into a bullpen session on Tuesday. That prompted the second meeting with Meister and, subsequently, the decision to get surgery.

“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster,” Bendix said. “Initially having the frustration of the elbow soreness and followed by the positive outlook on you don’t need surgery right now. There was an understanding that the ligament was not in great shape and essentially, you can pitch with it until you can’t, and nobody knows when that’s going to be. You have to try and see when the symptoms return. And unfortunately, that happened now. Better now than in the middle of the season.”

Bendix said the Marlins followed “the exact plan that was laid out by the doctor,” and the plan was “agreed upon with everybody.”

“Essentially, the idea is if the elbow doesn’t hurt, you keep pitching and you build up,” Bendix said. “At some point, the elbow’s going to start hurting again. It might be in two weeks. It might be in two years. You can’t find out until you build up.”

Perez said on March 22 this is the first time he has dealt with an elbow injury.

Perez, who turns 21 on April 15, had a 6-5 record and 3.15 ERA in 19 starts through 91 1/3 innings last season. He struck out 108 batters while walking just 31 and holding opponents to a .214 batting average against.

Through his first 11 starts — before being sent to Double A for a month from early July to early August to manage his workload so that he had innings left for the Marlins’ playoff push — Perez had a 2.36 ERA, which was the lowest for a pitcher 20 years old or younger with at least 50 innings pitched in the Live Ball Era (since 1920).

He was also the youngest player (20 years and 71 days old) since at least 1901 to record three consecutive scoreless outings of six-plus innings. Perez’s season ended on Sept. 23, when the Marlins placed him on the injured list with left SI joint inflammation.

He now joins his mentor and Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara on the sideline for the full season. Alcantara underwent Tommy John surgery in October.

“It’s obviously horrible for us, but it’s horrible for him,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “That poor kid tried as best as he could to come back and be part of the 2024 team. He was going to be one of our aces if not the ace replacing Sandy this year [along] with [Jesus] Luzardo, obviously. It definitely hits. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. It’s not easy to hear one of your best pitchers going down again, but I feel confident that he’ll come back. Him and Sandy will be together in the dugout all the way through. I’m not happy that he’s sitting in the dugout next to Sandy, but it’s kind of where we’re at and an opportunity for someone to step up.”

The Marlins are hoping for some reinforcements to its rotation by the end of the month. Righty Edward Cabrera, sidelined with a shoulder impingement, threw three innings at Triple A Jacksonville on a rehab assignment Sunday. Lefty Braxton Garrett, who had his throwing progression delayed due to general shoulder soreness at the start of spring training, threw three innings in an extended spring training game on Tuesday. Both are expected to pitch four innings with Jacksonville this week — Cabrera on Friday, Garrett on Sunday — and then likely have one more rehab start apiece before rejoining the big-league club.

“I still feel optimistic about this pitching and in this rotation,” Bendix said. “Just need the guys to actually execute. They know that and they are certainly more than capable of doing so. But getting Braxton back hopefully soon and getting Cabrera back hopefully soon, it just provides the reinforcements and the depth that we know we’re going to need.”