Seattle Mariners reliever Matt Brash to miss season following Tommy John surgery

<div>SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 16: Reliever <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Matt Brash;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Matt Brash</a> #47 of the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Seattle Mariners;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Seattle Mariners</a> delivers a pitch during the eighth inning of a game against <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:the Los Angeles Dodgers;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">the Los Angeles Dodgers</a> at T-Mobile Park on September 16, 2023 in Seattle, Washington.</div> <strong>(Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)</strong>

SEATTLE - Seattle Mariners star reliever Matt Brash had Tommy John surgery on his right throwing elbow on Wednesday, and he is expected to miss at least 12 months, per general manager Justin Hollander.

Brash has not pitched with the team this season as he initially tried to rehab his ailing elbow after experiencing soreness during spring training. Ultimately, Brash had the soreness return as he was nearing a potential rehab assignment and the decision was made to shut him down again.

Brash had the surgery with Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington, Texas.

"They did a ligament repair and also put in the brace," Hollander said of the procedure. "Apparently that's sort of the best practice now is to do both of those things. We anticipate 12 months and back at it. So hopefully, you know, June-ish next year he's back and ready to go."

An internal brace procedure is separate from a full Tommy John reconstruction and can shorten the time frame of recovery for specific instances of Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) injuries. Brash had a full reconstruction with a brace added for additional support.

Brash had a small tear in his posterior UCL that was "asymptomatic" when he was evaluated by Dr. Meister back in the spring. The decision was made to try the rehab route first with Brash getting back to throwing off a mound with both his fastball and slider. However, he was shut down again at the end of April after a throwing session left him telling Mariners' staff that "every throw felt bad."

The recovery timeline for Tommy John surgery used to be easily an 18-month rehabilitation. However, improvements in orthopedic medicine have helped shorten the return timeline. The fact that Brash is a relief pitcher and not a starter could speed up the recovery as well, since he won't need to throw 80-100 pitches in an outing.

Hollander said the recovery could even go faster than his projected 12-month timetable, but that he would never count on that type of recovery.

"They feel really good about how the procedure went and his ability to rehab from it successfully," Hollander said.

"Everybody loves Matt the person, every teammate loves Matt. What he did for us last year was unbelievable how many times he came through for us. Horrible batted ball start of the year, didn't get down on himself and was rapidly turning himself into the best or one of the best relievers in the American League, and to have a season just go away like this stinks for him, stinks for us. Probably one of the most popular players in our organization among his teammates, among staff members."

Brash led all of Major League Baseball with 78 appearances last season. He pitched 70 ⅔ innings with a 3.06 ERA, with 29 walks and 107 strikeouts. His slider is widely regarded as one of the most filthy pitches in all of MLB.

"I would put him up as one of the top relievers in the league," manager Scott Servais said. I's probably the most unique breaking ball, it's the breaking ball that everybody talks about in the league is Matt Brash's slider. It's just just a wipeout pitch.

"When you don't have a weapon like that, you have to manipulate through a bullpen a little bit different. He's a great security blanket to have when you map out a plan each night. And the nights that he's available, you can pretty much insert him at any point in the game. We've always tried to use him in the highest leverage spots because I think he's one of our best relievers. So it's a huge loss."

Outside of Brash, the Mariners' injury report was mostly positive.

Outfielder Dominic Canzone is set to go out on a rehab assignment on Saturday and will play at least four games before looking to rejoin the Mariners' roster. Canzone has missed 22 games due to an AC joint strain in his right shoulder sustained in a collision with the outfield wall.

"We'll assess where he's at timing wise. He feels really good. The last week was a big positive in terms of him being able to take next steps swinging the bat and everything," Hollander said.

Shortstop J.P. Crawford will also be heading out on a rehab assignment, either over the weekend or early next week to either High-A Everett or Triple-A Tacoma. Crawford has been out for 15 games with a right oblique strain.

"He's making great progress. All the reports have been super positive," Hollander said.

Precisely how long Crawford will need on a rehab assignment is still to be determined.

Right-hander Eduard Bazardo is back in the bullpen with the team after missing all of spring training and the first month of the season returning from a rotator cuff strain. Starting pitcher Bryan Woo was also activated from the injured list and will make his season debut Friday night against the Oakland Athletics after being shut down at the end of spring training with right elbow inflammation.

"It's such a special fastball," Servais said of Woo. "Both fastballs, the four-seam and the two-seam – but it's important, certainly at the big league level, you've got to get the off-speed pitch in play. You have a couple of different sliders that he has along with the change-up. So he's completely healthy. He'll be good to go tonight and can't wait to get him out there."

Left-handed reliever Tayler Saucedo appears to have avoided significant injury after going down making a play to cover first base during the last series in Minnesota. Hollander said the MRI on Saucedo was positive and they are hopeful he will miss just the minimum required 15 days on the injured list.

"They want to get the soreness out before they can really make an assessment on how long it will be," Hollander said. "Anticipate that happening in three or four days. So right now we're hopeful that it's the minimum 15 days down for Sauce, which is a huge relief given the way it looked on the field at the time."

The one other setback is with right-handed reliever Gregory Santos, who has not pitched yet this season either since being acquired in a trade with the Chicago White Sox this offseason.

Santos is working his way back from a right lat strain and is still only throwing between 60-90 feet. Hollander said Santos was briefly shut down for 3-4 days, but has felt "great" since the break. Santos will now join the team to continue doing his rehab work in Seattle instead of at their spring training site in Peoria, Ariz.

The setback has pushed back the timeline of Santos' return from June to likely July at the earliest.

"Just realistically where where that is, but no reason to be concerned it's greater than that right now," Hollander said.


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