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Mariners' RP Brash to miss rest of season after Tommy John surgery

Seattle Mariners Matt Brash - The Canadian Press

SEATTLE (AP) — Mariners’ right-hander Matt Brash, one of the top relievers in the American League last season, underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this week and will miss the entire 2024 season, Seattle general manager Justin Hollander said Friday.

Brash had not pitched in the majors this season after experiencing discomfort in his elbow during spring training. He initially attempted to rehab the injury without the need for surgery, but last month experienced a setback just before going out on a rehab assignment.

Hollander said after meeting with Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington, Texas, the decision was made to have the surgery on Wednesday.

“To have his season go away like this stinks for him. Stinks for us,” Hollander said. “Probably one of the most popular players in the organization among his teammates, among staff members.”

Hollander said Brash had a partial tear in the posterior area of the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, an area of the ligament that’s difficult to rehabilitate without surgery. Brash was able to pitch without issue despite the tear until he started to experience pain while throwing last month.

Hollander said the hope is Brash could be back pitching for the Mariners sometime in late spring or early summer of next season. Meister also placed a brace in Brash's elbow in the hope of speeding up the UCL recovery. The brace is separate from the internal brace surgery the likes of Spencer Strider have undergone to repair elbow issues.

Brash led all of baseball with 78 appearances last season and posted a 9-4 record with a 3.04 ERA. He struck out 107 batters in 70 2/3 innings, often using a wipe out slider that’s made him one of the more difficult relievers to face.

Brash started his career with Seattle in 2022 as a starter before transitioning to the bullpen. He has appeared in 117 games over the previous two seasons and is the latest name to join the growing list of players sidelined by elbow issues this year, including Strider, Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, the New York Yankees’ Jonathan Loáisiga, Miami’s Eury Pérez and Oakland’s Trevor Gott.

“I would put him up as one of the top relievers in the league,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “It’s probably the most unique breaking ball. It’s the breaking ball everybody talks about in the league; Matt Brash’s slider. It’s just a wipe out pitch. When you don’t have a weapon like that you have to manipulate through a bullpen a little differently. He’s a great security blanket to have when you map out a plan each night.”

The Mariners have been without two of their top relievers since spring training. Brash was sidelined with his elbow issues and Gregory Santos has been out due to a lat strain. Hollander said Santos had a small setback in his recovery, and after a brief break has resumed throwing out to about 90 feet. But the setback means it will likely be July before Santos pitches in a game for the Mariners.

While the news on pitchers was mixed, the Mariners could be close to getting two position players back. Outfielder Dominic Canzone (shoulder) is expected to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday, while shortstop J.P. Crawford (oblique) is likely to start a rehab assignment either this weekend or early next week.