Just one day before the start of the regular season, the Tampa Bay Rays have lost a key member of their four-man starting rotation as Nate Eovaldi has been diagnosed with loose bodies in his elbow, which will result in him undergoing surgery.
Though not as serious as Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi will miss significant time with the Rays. The veteran pitcher was on the verge of returning from his second Tommy John surgery and had impressed all spring.
BREAKING: Eovaldi is out for #Rays. Has loose bodies in elbow, arthroscopic surgery seems likely. Could return this year. Had looked very sharp this spring in return from 2nd Tommy John.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 28, 2018
Eovaldi is vying to beat the odds and return to the majors as a starting pitcher. Only two pitchers in baseball have made more than 15 starts with two Tommy John surgeries on their resume. His contact has incentives related to relief appearances, should he return in that role later this season.
As noted above, surgery is not a guarantee, but a trip to the Disabled List is a forgone conclusion for the 99 mph hurler.
Signed during the 2016-2017 off-season, as a two year project for the Rays, Eovaldi was ready to return towards the end of last season, but the Rays decided to hold him back as his arm wasn’t needed at the time.
A six year major league veteran and at one time, one of the game’s top 100 prospects, Eovlaldi has not pitched in a regular season game since 2016 with the Yankees, he has also spent some time with the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Rays will now have to rely on their depth in the minor leagues, which has already been depleted due to the Tommy John requiring injuries to their top two pitching prospects Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon.
Next on the depth chart is the recently acquired farmhand Anthony Banda. You can read more about him here.
Update - 2:05 PM
Eovaldi will indeed require surgery, but is reported to not have ligament damage. Additionally, Austin Pruitt (who had one stellar start against the Astros last season but several disastrous bullpen appearances) has been added to the Rays roster.
#Rays now confirm our report, say Eovaldi will undergo surgery for loose bodies in elbow, will have surgery— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 28, 2018
The good news for the #Rays Nathan Eovaldi is that the ligament structure is sound.— Neil Solondz (@neilsolondz) March 28, 2018