GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Reliever Garrett Crochet will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, as announced by the White Sox southpaw prior to Saturday’s Cactus League game in Scottsdale.
Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery early this coming week.
“Definitely not one that I thought I’d be doing today, that’s for sure, right before the season,” Crochet said. “But I was pitching the other day, felt a pop on my second to last pitch.
“Threw another one just to kind of make sure and I felt some sharp pain in the same spot. Came out, went to the training room and performed some of the tests and, at that moment, it was pretty clear to me, I’m not sure how it was to [head athletic trainer] James [Kruk], but [the] MRI obviously showed a partial tear.”
Crochet started that eighth inning in Thursday night’s victory over the Reds at Goodyear and struck out Sebastian Almonte. After falling behind 3-1 to Robbie Tenerowicz, he called for the trainer and was replaced after a visit from manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Ethan Katz.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn and Crochet both acknowledged the disappointment of losing a key contributor. They also looked a bit beyond the initial consternation.
“If you want to take the glass half full side of things, at least from a timing standpoint with regards to any Tommy John surgery, using the very generic approximate 11 to 13 months recovery for a reliever, we should have him back for the 2023 season if that is the case,” Hahn explained.
“A lot of scars in our locker room, so there’s some track records to follow,” Crochet remarked. “Very confident going into it. Just hope for the best, hope for a speedy recovery.”
In his first full season with the White Sox in ‘21, Crochet posted a 2.82 ERA and struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings in 54 appearances (65 strikeouts over 54 1/3 innings). Crochet was selected 11th overall in the 2020 MLB Draft and went from the White Sox alternate training site to the Majors in that same season, trailing only the Dodgers’ Brusdar Graterol for most pitches at 100 mph or above in just five appearances and six innings.
His role was set to shift to the hybrid starter/reliever handled so adeptly by Michael Kopech last season. But instead, Crochet, 22, loses a valuable season of development. It’s a topic Hahn thought was too close to the injury to address very specifically.
“Certainly, it would be difficult for me to have a positive spin on him missing the season in terms of his development,” Hahn said. “The only real positive is the timing puts him in line to again be able to help us in 2023. As for what role and the recovery path and the development path, we’ll take a bit here and let the kid recover from whatever lies ahead and we’ll chart a path ahead for him.”
“Tommy John these days doesn’t seem to be an end all, be all thing,” Crochet said. “I’m very confident going into the surgery that the recovery can be even better than I was pitching this past spring."
Many pundits picked the White Sox as one of the best overall bullpens going into the 2022 season, including MLB.com’s recent rankings placing them second behind Atlanta. But on Friday, the defending American League Central champs traded Craig Kimbrel and his $16 million salary for ’22 to the Dodgers for outfielder AJ Pollock.
Hahn has talked about there always being one more move to make for a team pushing for a World Series title, a fact that holds true during this abbreviated offseason period following the lockout. That move should center on pitching, but in the interim, young hurlers such as southpaws Bennett Sousa and Anderson Severino and veteran Kyle Crick will get a chance to show what they have.
“We think we have quality bullpen options in-house to fill those innings,” Hahn said. “Ryan Burr and Matt Foster both look very good this spring. We’ve been impressed with what Crick has brought to the table and both young lefties in Sousa and Severino have shown the potential ability to help a big league club.
“So, we’ve got options. We have Joe Kelly coming back at some point as well which will help deepen the back end of our pen and the options there. There’s never a good time to lose any pitching depth regardless of how well situated you are. But we feel we have quality options to fill those voids.”
During his rehab, Crochet intends to be around his teammates when possible as they push for what they hope is a championship season. He also joked with his wife they might have to pick up a few hobbies over the next year.
“We like to do puzzles and stuff like that, but we’ll have to pick up some more,” Crochet said. “The biggest thing will be to take my mental health very seriously those first few months as the rehab is going to be going pretty slow. Just going to be not much to do. Going to have to keep my mind occupied.”