Nationals’ Joe Ross avoids Tommy John surgery but unlikely to return until 2022

Joe Ross avoids TJ surgery but unlikely to return until 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Nationals starter Joe Ross is expected to miss the remainder of the 2021 season after the specialist who performed his Tommy John surgery in 2017 determined that the partial tear in his UCL won’t require him to go under the knife once again, manager Davey Martinez announced.

Ross will begin with extended rest before rehabbing the injury.

“Joe went and saw Dr. [Keith] Meister and as of right now he’s not gonna need surgery,” Martinez told reporters before Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Nationals Park. “He said it’s basically a sprain so he’s gonna have some significant amount of time [missed] when he comes back but I deem that good news. We’ll see him when he gets back.”

Ross flew to Texas and met with Dr. Meister, who concluded that the torn ligament could be repaired without undergoing Tommy John. The right-hander had the first surgery in July 2017 and didn’t return to the majors until September the following year. He bounced back and forth between the bullpen and rotation in 2019 before sitting out in 2020 because of the pandemic.

The Nationals attempted to limit Ross’s workload this season to account for his lack of pitching last year but ultimately they were unable to prevent him from sustaining injury. Ross first hit the Injured List with elbow inflammation in July just ahead of the All-Star Break. An MRI revealed no structural damage and he returned July 31 only to make three starts before the partial tear was discovered.

Ross finishes the season with a 4.17 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts) having compiled 109 strikeouts and 34 walks over 108 innings — the most he’s ever thrown in a season at the major-league level. With just one year of arbitration left on Ross’s deal, the Nationals will have to determine this winter whether to tender him a contract for next season.

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