Nationals' Will Harris likely out for season with thoracic outlet syndrome

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Nationals' Will Harris diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Washington Nationals reliever Will Harris has been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and will have surgery, manager Davey Martinez told reporters on Sunday.

The diagnosis and decision for surgery means that Harris will most likely not pitch again during the 2021 MLB season. 

“I spoke to him for a while yesterday, and I think it’s the right thing to do at this point,” Martinez said. “He tried to pitch for us, and the hand-swelling thing, it was frustrating to him. I told him, ‘If it was me, I’d go ahead and have the surgery, but it’s your decision.’ And he chose to do that.”

Thoracic outlet syndrome is described as an ailment in which there is an irregularity in the nerves or blood vessels that are around the neck and chest area. It can cause symptoms such as swelling in the hands, something Harris has dealt with in 2021.

The inflammation in the hand stems back to spring training in March, and since then Harris has been searching for answers. He was first informed that TOC was not the cause of the swelling and eventually joined Washington in May, a relief at the time.

“I’m not in the beginning of my career, let’s say,” Harris said earlier in the year. “So getting a thoracic outlet diagnosis there was not good. And I thought maybe, wow, 2021 may be over. And who knows how I’m going to come out of that. Moving past that has definitely been a blessing. And I’m excited that I’m here on May 4, ready to pitch in a big league game. It definitely didn’t look like that in March.”

Harris, who signed a three-year deal with the Nationals prior to the 2020 season, struggled in his eight appearances. The 11-year pro had a 9.00 ERA in just six innings of work. With the hand still a problem, Harris was placed on the IL after allowing two runs on three hits without recording an out against the Orioles on May 22.

As the team continued to search for answers, a doctor in Dallas diagnosed Harris with thoracic outlet syndrome. Typically a three-month recovery process at the minimum, it presumably ends Harris' campaign.