Posted on June 7, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After four innings and one start, the 2018 season is over for St. Louis Cardinals prospect Alex Reyes. The team announced Wednesday night that Reyes has undergone surgery to reattach a tendon in his right lat. Recovery time for the surgery is six months, effectively ending his season. It’s another setback for a pitcher who remains one of the top prospects in baseball despite what will be a second consecutive lost season due to injury.
“This is another tough, tough run for him,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. “We hurt for him.”
Reyes made his season debut only a week ago following a 15-month recovery from Tommy John surgery. The outing was promising in the sense that Reyes threw four shutout innings. However, he was pulled after only four innings because the team noticed a dip in his velocity. Reyes went back to the DL the very next day. Doctors found a significant strain of the lat muscle that required surgery.
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“There was some fraying between the lat, the tendon, and the bone,” explains Cardinals GM Michael Girsch. “Based on that he had surgery to reattach the tendon to the bone. The good news is that when they went in the tendon still was partially frayed, it wasn’t completely torn off, which means there’s good blood flow.”
Girsch added that doctors expect Reyes to make a full recovery. With a six-month timeframe, Reyes should be ready for the start of spring training in 2019, barring any setbacks. Reyes will turn 24 later this summer, so he has plenty of time to come back and fulfill his enormous potential.
However, he has just 50 career major league innings under his belt nearly two years after making his big league debut in August 2016. After sitting out last season because of Tommy John, another serious surgery is a huge blow to the young pitcher both physically and mentally.
“He’s pretty down right now,” said Matheny. “It took so much for him to get where he is right now, to get him back to the mound. This isn’t something that is typical.”
It’s also a huge loss for the Cardinals, who expected Reyes to play a significant role on their pitching staff the rest of the season. While St. Louis got ace Carlos Martinez back from the DL on Tuesday, it’s uncertain whether Adam Wainwright will return this season or not. That could have left an open spot in their rotation for Reyes to fill.
St. Louis also has four key relievers currently on the DL. The Cardinals could have moved Reyes to the bullpen at some point if his innings count got too high in his return from Tommy John. He pitched well in both roles after coming up in 2016. Either as a starter or reliever, Reyes was poised for a prominent role on the St. Louis pitching staff the second half of the season.
“Obviously, we were excited to have him back and trying to figure out how it plays with our club,” said Matheny.
Alas, it was not meant to be for Reyes, at least not in 2018. If all goes well, he should have an opportunity to bounce back next season. Of course, after two major surgeries, there are no guarantees. The Cardinals, meanwhile, will have to move forward without him. Despite all the injuries, St. Louis is in good shape, just three games out in the NL Central. However, in such a competitive division, a healthy Reyes could have been a real difference maker when all is said and done.