DENVER -- The Rockies suffered a major blow Tuesday when they learned that Opening Day starting pitcher Germán Márquez will need Tommy John surgery, forcing him out of the rotation and off the field for the rest of 2023 and likely well into next season.
Márquez broke the news himself Tuesday. Currently on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation, Márquez underwent a follow-up MRI on Monday. The news of his surgery was confirmed by general manager Bill Schmidt and manager Bud Black.
“This morning I talked to [head athletic trainer] Keith [Dugger], and he indicated that they’d compiled all the results of all the testing that's been done the last three or four days, and it looks as though this was going to be headed towards surgery,” manager Bud Black said. “The ligament was damaged. I heard this morning. I was hoping for the best, but you know, instinctively, I knew this one didn’t feel good.”
The 28-year-old right-hander left his past two starts with pain in his right arm, including exiting after 3 2/3 innings on April 26 against the Guardians. His immediate diagnosis was a triceps issue, but a follow-up exam the following day revealed the elbow issue. Tests after his first exit from a game on April 10 showed no ligament damage, but new tests after the start vs. Cleveland showed significant damage, according to Black.
“I was told they were different,” general manager Bill Schmidt. “The second one was the one that supposedly [caused the damage].”
Márquez went 2-2 with a 4.95 ERA in four starts this year. Black liked what he’d seen from Márquez and was expecting a big year from him. The timing is particularly bad for Márquez, who is in the final year of his contract, with the Rockies holding an option for 2024.
“We feel bad for him,” Schmidt said. “He's a quality person. We'll be here to support him as he goes through the process of rehab.”
Asked if he hoped to see Márquez pitch in a Rockies uniform again, given the timing of his injury during a contract year, Black was optimistic.
“I hope, yeah, for me -- I think all of us want to [see him back],” Black said. “I can't speak for him, but I think he does, too. Who wouldn’t want him?”
The loss of Márquez will have a big impact on a Colorado pitching staff whose 5.36 ERA ranked 27th in the Majors and last in the National League entering Tuesday. The righty has been a reliable arm for the Rockies, pitching 160 or more innings in five of the past six seasons and leading the National League with 81 2/3 innings pitched in the shortened 2020 season.
Márquez struck out four batters in Cleveland to bring him within two of Jorge De La Rosa’s club-record 985 career strikeouts. Márquez is also third in club history with 65 career wins and is one road win shy of Aaron Cook’s record of 36. He was an All-Star in 2021, one of only five Rockies starters to earn the honor.
“We’ll look internally to fill [his position], and we'll look externally and see what we can do to help patch it,” Schmidt said. “You don't lose a guy like him and go out right away; those aren’t easy to get at this time of year.”
“[Our depth is] taking a hit for sure with Germán and [Noah] Davis,” Black said. "We have to fortify that a little bit. I'm sure our organization, our front office, will be out there looking for some additional help that makes sense.”
Seabold has a history of starting in the Red Sox's organization and was slated to start in Triple-A Albuquerque to begin the season, but the Rockies needed his length in the bullpen. He threw 60 pitches his last time out and should be good for 75-80 pitches Thursday.
Black said Senzatela is on track for 80-90 pitches Friday and has been looking and feeling good as his rehab wraps up. He has not pitched in a Major League game since Aug. 18, 2022, when he tore his left ACL.