When Jeffrey Springs was forced to leave the Tampa Bay Rays’ game against the Boston Red Sox last week with some sort of arm or hand discomfort, the initial thought was that he’d suffered nerve inflammation in his arm — with a timetable for return of anywhere from weeks to a couple of months. As it turns out, the actual diagnosis is much worse:
Updated breaking #Rays news: Springs expected to have Tommy John surgery, will be sidelined into 2024 season https://t.co/JTL2zkaRDP— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 18, 2023
It’s a heartbreaking diagnosis for Springs, who was in the midst of a breakout year with no earned runs allowed over his first 17 innings. Tommy John surgery will obviously cost him the rest of this season in addition to a good portion of 2024 — if he can return next year at all.
A 30th-round pick out of Appalachian State in the 2015 MLB Draft, Springs was an anonymous reliever when the Rays traded for him back in February of 2021. He was solid out of the bullpen that season, but when the team moved him into the starting rotation in 2022 he was a revelation — posting a 2.46 ERA with 144 strikeouts over 135.1 innings on the back of one of the best changeups in baseball.
He looked even better to start 2023, throwing six no-hit innings against the Detroit Tigers in his first start and backing that up with seven shutout frames against the Oakland Athletics last weekend. His loss would be a huge one for a Rays team that’s already down Tyler Glasnow and Zach Eflin from its planned starting rotation. The team will have to rely even more heavily on top prospect Taj Bradley — who was just called up to start on Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds — while lefty Mason Montgomery could be ready for a promotion later this summer.